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Like it or not, Sherri Shepherd is a mom with responsibilities

Actress Sherri Shepherd wanted to be a parent with Lamar Sally. Then she didn't. If they had been the only two parties involved in the discussion about the issue it might not have been a problem. But that isn't the way it worked out. And now, whether she likes it or not, Shepherd is the legal mother of baby LJ.

That's what an appeals court in a state outside of Texas ruled recently. In addition to making that declaration, the court said that Shepherd must continue paying child support payments to ex-husband Sally. He has custody and is raising the 1-year-old child alone.

Experienced attorneys know that because this is a legal matter, the decision is not necessarily the end of the things. Shepherd could appeal the issue to yet a higher court.

As has been widely reported elsewhere, Shepherd and Sally signed a contract under which they hired a surrogate mother. That contract stipulated that Shepherd and Sally would be listed as the parents on the birth certificate. Before the delivery, the couple divorced. When the time came to sign the document, Shepherd sought to void the contract and remove her name from the certificate. Two courts have denied her requests.

Regardless of whether further appeal is made, a lawyer for the child says the decisions to date are important in the broader scope of family law as it applies to custody and support for children created through assisted reproduction. If nothing else, he says it should reassure gestational carriers that if they enter into a properly constructed contract they won't face parental responsibilities they never signed up for.

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