Sherri Shepherd Must Pay Child Support for Baby She Was 'Tricked Into'

Illustration for article titled Sherri Shepherd Must Pay Child Support for Baby She Was 'Tricked Into'

The Sherri Shepherd surrogacy saga has come to an end for now. A judge ruled that the actress and former The View co-host must pay child support to her ex, Lamar Sally, who is raising the baby he and Shepherd conceived via surrogate. While Shepherd must pay Sally approximately $4,000 a month in support, she can still appeal to make these payments disappear.


According to TMZ, Shepherd has claimed all throughout her divorce from Sally that he only wanted her to have a baby in order to collect child support. She’s not in contact with the child, who she’s “disavowed since birth,” and has not yet stated whether she will continue trying to push her fraud lawsuit against Sally or just fork over the money. In addition, Shepherd’s asked the court to destroy any frozen embryos that remain in storage, but Sally’s against that, too, suggesting that he might be interested in bringing at least one more baby into this world. The current settlement, TMZ reports, will not hold Shepherd financially responsible for any future children that come via surrogacy. She is, however, now listed as the legal mother of nine-month-old Sally is taking care of.

Considering that the one child Sally and Shepherd have together is already going to be growing up in adverse conditions, it may be a good idea to stop there.

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I studied assisted reproductive technologies in law school, and this is precisely the kind of scenario we discussed in our hypotheticals. There is literally no legal precedent for this case, anywhere. It’s completely uncharted territory. On the one hand, Shepherd’s position isn’t nuts: she has no genetic relation to the child, has not adopted the child, and is not married or otherwise attached to the child’s genetic or adopted father. These, historically, have been the only positions anchoring parenthood in the law. On the other hand, family law has generally had the best interests of the child as it’s anchoring principle, and that would seem to dictate some level of involvement by Shepherd, at least financially, since she was responsible in some manner for bringing this child into existence. On the third hand, one generally has to be a family member for family law to be relevant, and if there’s no legal parenthood here, it’s moot!

This situation reveals the central conundrum in these areas of law: they generally work best when people are on their best (or at least reasonable) behavior. But when people behave well, we don’t need the law to intervene! And so we end up having to choose from a few variously odious options.