An attorney says the ruling sets a precedent in Pennsylvania and is a "victory" for families using surrogates
Former The View co-host Sherri Shepherd lost her fight to have her name removed from the birth certificate of the son she had via surrogate, and she must continue paying child support for the 1-year-old boy being raised by her ex-husband, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Monday’s ruling by a Pennsylvania court of appeals was hailed by the owner of the agency who arranged the surrogacy as ” a victory for all families formed through assisted reproductive arrangements.”
“This will allow parents and carriers to feel secure,” Melissa Brisman, owner of the New Jersey-based Reproductive Possibilities, tells PEOPLE. “A great decision for the surrogacy community.”
The ruling upholds a lower court’s April decision that Shepherd is the legal mother of the baby, named LJ, she had with ex-husband Lamar Sally. Shepherd and Sally used a donor egg for the pregnancy, which was carried by surrogate Jessica Bartholomew. Months into the pregnancy in May 2014, Shepherd and Sally split.
Shepherd’s attorney and manager did not return requests for comment on Monday’s ruling. But in August, the star told PEOPLE she went through with the surrogacy despite her marital problems because she feared Sally would break up with her.
“My situation was a sense of, I didn’t state what I needed and what I wanted and what I didn’t want for being scared of somebody leaving the relationship,” she said. “There are consequences to everything, but I was scared to say, ‘That’s not going to work for me. I don’t want that.’ ”
“I am appealing the ruling that happened and he gets his settlement every month,” Shepherd, who has a 10-year-old son Jeffrey from a previous marriage, added 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.”
Since the child’s birth last year, Shepherd has fought to prevent having her name on the birth certificate. It was not originally put on the certificate because she was not present at the birth and refused to acknowledge she was the mother, resulting in litigation, Brisman has told PEOPLE.
After a judge ruled in April that Shepherd must pay alimony and child support, Shepherd fought the decision before a three-judge panel on Oct. 5 in Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Shepherd can still appeal Monday’s decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
“I think this is the first case in the nation where one of the intended parents has tried to opt out of the contract when the pregnancy was in play,” Craig Bluestein, a legal representative for the child, previously told PEOPLE. “This is very important because gestational carriers need to know that, if they are intending other people to be parents, that the carrier’s name won’t be on the birth certificate as mother and carry with it all the responsibilities of being a mother, including child support for a child you never intended to parent.”