California courts deal with many different child support scenarios, but those similar to the situation recently faced by Sherri Shepherd may be uncommon. In her situation, the former co-host of "The View" and her then-husband decided to have a child by means of surrogacy. A donated egg and the sperm of Shepherd's husband were used, and a surrogacy contract was made. However, the marriage crumbled after the pregnancy began. Her former husband now has custody of the child, but prior to the boy's birth, Shepherd attempted to end the surrogacy contract.
Shepherd was ordered to pay child support after a trial court ruled that she was the legal mother of the boy. Her name now appears on his birth certificate, and support is to be paid until the boy reaches 13 years of age. Shepherd appealed the original decision, but that ruling was upheld at both the Pennsylvania Court of Appeals and at the state's Supreme Court. Shepherd has also dealt with custody issues related to a 9-year-old son, whose father attempted to gain custody after alleging various negative parenting behavior's on Shepherd's part. In this case, the complaints were deemed to be unfounded.
Parents could contest various aspects of a custody or child support order if they disagree with a judge's decision. However, collaboration or mediation might provide a divorcing couple with a means of working toward reasonable terms that meet the needs of all parties involved, especially those of the children, without putting the decision-making responsibility in a judge's hands. It is important to be sure that the terms are recorded in a manner that is legally binding so that there are consequences for non-payment of support or violations of other terms.
Although mediation can minimize the potential for unpleasant terms being imposed on a parent, it is important to have one's own legal representative. A lawyer may have helpful insights for helping a client to achieve acceptable custody, support, and property division terms.