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Sherri Shepherd now facing two child custody disputes

Last week we discussed the potential complex family law issues that may arise in the divorce between Lamar Sally and Sherri Shepherd, a host of “The View.” Two separate proceedings have been filed in that divorce. Since our last post, news of the family law dispute has grown. While Mr. Sally and Ms. Shepherd have no children together, the couple is expecting a child this summer through a surrogate.

A child custody dispute is brewing in the dueling divorces between the estranged couple. In addition to that custody battle, it appears that Ms. Shepherd’s former husband is also seeking a modification of child custody related to that couple’s 9-year-old child.

As we mentioned last week, Ms. Shepherd and Mr. Sally each acknowledged the existence of a prenuptial agreement in their bi-coastal family court papers. In Texas, courts often respect prenuptial agreements as a form of contract. These agreements generally may outline how debts, financial issues and property division may be handled in the event a marriage breaks down. Prenuptial agreements, however, may be challenged if fraud or other issues make it unjust for the court to enforce the contract.

Last week’s entry indicated that Ms. Shepherd had not expressly mentioned child custody issues involving the unborn child in her marriage with Mr. Sally. She simply requested that the prenup be enforced; the prenup reportedly has a clause addressing the property settlement.

However, media outlets now claim that the prenuptial agreement also purports to address the child custody issue related to the unborn child. Child custody is a complex area of family law. Issues are generally determined in the best interests of the child. Similarly, as circumstances change, a person may seek a modification of child custody and support orders, creating a new twist in the Sally-Shepherd child custody dispute. The dueling divorce cases on each coast are not controlled by Texas law, and how the court that decides the issues may be speculative at this point.

But, the issue of modification is involved in the news of the child custody dispute involving Ms. Shepherd and her previous husband, Jeff Tarpley. He has filed a petition seeking a modification of the child custody issues involving the couple’s 9-year-old son, claiming that the boy is being neglected in Ms. Shepherd’s care. A hearing on the modification is scheduled in July.

Source: Huffington Post, “Sherri Shepherd Fights For Full Custody Of Unborn Child After Filing For Divorce,” updated May 19, 2014; People Magazine, “Sherri Shepherd's First Husband Seeks Full Custody of Their Son,” Andrea Billups, May 17, 2014

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