This is the story of a modern American marriage — featuring a brutal divorce battle between a moneyed wife and her poorer spouse, combined with a scary squabble over the custody of a child who has yet to be born.
When the dust settles, a judge will choose the party who will raise and pay for the care and feeding of a little one conceived through the latest fad in reproductive technology. This is the case of Sherri Shepherd.
Shepherd is in the midst of a divorce war with her estranged TV-writer husband, Lamar Sally, whom she married in Chicago nearly three years ago. Shepherd, 47, with her husband enlisted a surrogate to get impregnated through in-vitro fertilization, then carry the resulting spawn in her womb until birth.
In a story reported by TMZ.com that’s sending tremors throughout the child-making industry, Shepherd, whose personal fortune is pegged at $10 million by the website Celebrity Net Worth, does not intend to raise or pay for the expenses of a child she commissioned but is not biologically related to. She wants no parental rights. No responsibilities.
The baby, who’s set to be born later this month, was created through the union of a donated egg and Sally’s sperm. But Shepherd, TMZ reported, alleged that Sally decided to divorce her before the infant was created in order to wrest hefty child-support payments from her.
In court papers, Sally gave his unborn child’s name as Lamar Sally Jr. and his due date as July 28. He requested full physical and legal custody of the kid, but wants Shepherd to have “reasonable” visitation rights. He also asked that a prenuptial agreement signed by the couple be declared invalid due to “fraud.” If a judge rules in Sally’s favor, he could get spousal support (formerly known as alimony) from Shepherd.
Shepherd fired back, filing divorce papers May 6 in New Jersey, where she and Sally had lived together, also citing “irreconcilable differences.” But she sought divorce in a state in which the legal system, Benardo said, generally does not recognize the validity of surrogate-birth agreements.