"This is the first case I am aware of where an intended mother has tried to back out of a surrogacy arrangement," her ex Lamar Sally's attorney says
But on Monday, attorneys for the child, the surrogate and Sally urged the three-judge panel in Pennsylvia Superior Court to uphold the prior decision, which listed Shepherd as the mother of the child.
Despite contracts Shepherd and Sally entered into to have the child with surrogate Jessica Bartholomew that are “clearly enforceable,” Bartholomew’s attorney, Jeremy Ross, argued, “This is the first time in the history of the United States that an intended mother has walked out on a carrier six months into the pregnancy.”
Shepherd, 48, and Sally, 45, married in 2011. They filed for divorce in May 2014, and the child, named Lamar Jr. and called “LJ,” was born that August.
“This woman is the mother,” Ross said, “and can’t be allowed to walk away from the this baby.”
Shepherd’s attorney, Samuel Totaro, declined comment to PEOPLE following the hearing.
Though Shepherd was not present in court, she told PEOPLE last month that she planned to appeal the latest decision.
“I am appealing the ruling that happened and he gets his settlement every month,” Shepherd, who has a 10-year-old son named Jeffrey with her first husband, said of Sally. “He’s happy. There nothing I can do. It’s out of my hands. You move on, and I have a son. I have to take care of him, so everything is good.”
The judges are expected to rule in a month or two, Sally’s lawyer Tiffany Palmer tells PEOPLE.
Palmer and Craig Bluestein, a legal representative for the baby, told PEOPLE they expect the judges will uphold the prior ruling.
“This is the first case I am aware of where an intended mother has tried to back out of a surrogacy arrangement,” Palmer said. “I think when her marriage ended, she tried to get rid of the whole situation. But when you bring a child into this world, you can’t just walk away. That’s what she has to live with. The child is only here because of her.”
Shepherd “has no contact with and has never seen the child,” said Palmer, noting that Sally has sole legal and physical custody. Shepherd’s walking away is “very unusual,” she added.
LJ is just over 1 year old now and “doing great,” Palmer said.
Prior to the judge’s decision to officially list Shepherd on the birth certificate, the baby’s legal mother was listed as surrogate Bartholomew. As a result of Bartholomew’s name being listed, the state of California initiated a child support action against her.
“Hopefully this will make it easier for gestational carriers to feel more comfortable,” says Melissa Brisman, an attorney whose firm, Reproductive Possibilities, arranged for the surrogacy. “Hopefully they won’t have to worry that a mother can walk away from the baby.”