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Surrogate Responsible for Child Support

By Snyder & Sarno on February 20, 2015


Sherri Shepherd, former co-host of the “The View,” and her husband, Lamar Sally, entered into a surrogacy agreement in order to have a child.  The child was conceived using Sally’s sperm and the egg of a donor.  In May, however, when the surrogate was already bearing the couple’s child, the couple decided to divorce.  The surrogate, Jessica Bartholomew, has now finally spoken out about the legal repercussions of the arrangement. 

The Daily News reports that now, Shepherd refuses to acknowledge the child’s existence, despite having entered into the surrogacy agreement.  As a result, the surrogate is “listed as a noncustodial parent in California.”  After Sally, the primary custodial parent, applied for a California program called Medi-Cal that provides health insurance to low-income families, the surrogate is also being held responsible for paying child support.  

In New Jersey, traditional surrogacy arrangements are prohibited.  See In re Baby M, 109 N.J. 396 (1988).  This means that a couple cannot enter into a surrogacy agreement where the surrogate is a biological contributor and is compensated for her services.  This is because a parent cannot relinquish parental rights via a contract.  In New Jersey, however, it is permissible for a couple to use a surrogate where the surrogate is not compensated and is not a biological contributor. 

Ultimately, Bartholomew’s case is unique, but may set important precedent as surrogacy becomes more popular and legal rights, such as child support, are correspondingly implicated.  If you have questions about surrogacy or child support in New Jersey, call the experienced attorneys at Snyder & Sarno, LLC at (973) 274-5200.   

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