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Can surrogate mothers suffer within family law matters?

Many Maryland families struggle with infertility issues. Often, the chosen path to conceiving a child lies in the use of a carefully screened surrogate mother. This path is made possible by women who are able and willing to carry a child to term for another family. The transaction is both profitable for the surrogate and immensely rewarding for the intended parents. However, there are cases in which surrogates can face serious family law matters, as in a recent case that has made national headlines.

The case involves the surrogate hired by talk-show host Sherri Shepherd and her husband, Lamar Sally. The couple went under contract with a surrogate to carry a child that was conceived using Sally’s sperm and an egg donated by another woman. Everything was going according to plan until Shepherd and Sally parted ways and filed for divorce.

At that point, the surrogate alleges that Shepherd stopped making any effort to participate in the pregnancy, even though the contract between the parties names Shepherd as the “intended mother.” When the child was born in Aug. 2014, Shepherd did not sign the birth certificate, leaving the state to enter the surrogate’s name as the child’s mother. Sally then filed for Medicaid assistance, which triggered the state to seek child support from the other parent, in this case the surrogate mother.

As a result of this unforeseen turn of events, the woman who agreed to act as a surrogate is now facing a child support case. This is despite the fact that she has no biological connection to the child, and never intended to act as a parent to the baby she delivered. Unfortunately, family law matters such as this are a risk for those who choose to take steps to assist a couple in adding to their family. Many Maryland families will continue to watch to see how the matter is ultimately resolved.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Sherri Shepherd’s Surrogate Slams Her For Acting Like ‘Baby Is Non-Existent’ (VIDEO)“, Brennan Williams, Jan. 30, 2015

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