Establishing child custody and support is generally one of the top priorities for divorcing parents. However, as advances in science have allowed parents in both Illinois and across the country to have children through surrogates or other means, new issues surrounding child support and custody may arise. After Sherri Shepherd’s divorce was recently announced, questions concerning the custody of her and Lamar Sally’s unborn child were almost immediately raised.

Shepherd and her soon-to-be ex-husband Lamar Sally are expecting a child together. Their son, who is supposed to be born July 2014, is being carried by a surrogate. While Sally’s sperm was used to conceive the child, the couple opted to use a donor egg. More recently, Shepherd has requested that her parental rights be severed.

On the other hand, Sally is requesting full custody of their unborn child as well as child support. In order to accomplish this, he has requested that their prenuptial agreement — which would automatically grant Shepherd full custody — be invalidated. Alternatively, Shepherd wants the prenup to be upheld at least in part, as Sally would only receive $60,000 as part of their divorce settlement.

Both parties filed in separate states that recognize surrogate agreements in vastly different ways. While there are numerous factors that can affect whether a prenup agreement is upheld or invalidated, the issues concerning the future child support and custody of the couple’s child are not likely to be addressed within the agreement, even if it is upheld. When divorcing Illinois couples encounter difficult or unusual circumstances that they are unable to tackle themselves, mediation can be a viable option for determining the best outcome for both the parents and the children. In other circumstances, such as that of Shepherd and Sally, issues may go beyond the help that a mediator can provide and require the aid of the court. However, should a case proceed to that level, a judge will be in charge of all final decisions.

Source:, “Sherri Shepherd – Lamar Sally divorce complicated by unborn surrogate child“, Ruth Houston, July 15, 2014