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Former co-host of 'The View,' caught up in complex divorce

The birth of a child is a joyous occasion for many parents. However, for those couples in Florida who cannot conceive a child naturally, there are options such as in-vitro fertilization and surrogacy. Even though reproductive technologies have advanced, law surrounding such procedure is still very new and may cause controversy in family court system. In one example, Sherri Shepherd, former co-host of the daytime talk show "The View," has stated that she would like to sever all ties with her soon to be ex-husband and their child who due to be born through a surrogate.

Earlier this year the couple had formally announced that they had decided to end their marriage. They are currently in the process of working out the terms of their divorce settlement. According to reports, they tried having children but they were not able to conceive a child naturally. They then entertained the idea of using in-vitro fertilization and finally decided to go the route of using a surrogate mother. In this specific case the surrogate is carrying a child that was conceived from Shepherd's soon to be ex-husband's sperm but not an egg from the former talk show host. In essence, the child will not be a biological offspring of Shepherd.

To complicate matters, Shepherd indicated that she believes that her soon to be ex-husband planned on having a child with the former host and then divorcing her but retaining custody of the child and thus forcing her to pay child support. She petitioned a court to legally decree that she may not be recognized as a parent to that child because she does not share biological material with it. However, Shepherd did sign the surrogacy agreement. Shepherd's husband had petitioned for physical and legal custody of the child once it is born. A potential issue which could complicate the case is that both have filed their divorce petitions in different states. One state does not recognize surrogacy agreements whereas the other state does.

Surrogacy laws vary from state to state. In Florida, state law explicitly allows surrogacy agreements. Child custody issues can arise in any divorce or separation. However, in some cases such issues can get complex. Enlisting the help of a family law attorney familiar with state law and case law on unique issues that may come up in a family law scenario may be helpful.

Source: New York Daily News, "Sherri Shepherd does not want 'parental rights and responsibilities' for unborn surrogate baby: report," Krithana Ramisetti, July 5, 2014

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