The View doesn’t look too good right now for Sherri Shepherd. The typically upbeat co-host of the daytime talk show “The View” is currently dealing with not one, but two separate custody battles. It has been widely reported that Shepherd’s current husband, Lamar Sally, initiated legal proceedings on May 2, 2014 seeking full legal and physical custody of their unborn child, who is presently being carried by a surrogate. However, what flew under the radar until just recently was that Shepherd’s former husband, Jeffrey Tarpley, had already filed a request with the Los Angeles Superior Court in April of 2014 requesting that his custody arrangement with Shepherd be modified and the Court award him full custody of their 9 year old son, Jeffrey. Tarpley is claiming that Shepherd’s demanding professional life has “caused her to neglect Jeffrey and deprive him access to basic educational needs, a nurturing and loving environment, and care that Jeffrey so desperately needs”. Shepherd has filed a response contending that it is actually Tarpley that is the absentee parent.
Custody modifications are not uncommon in Georgia. The law recognizes that because children mature and develop in unforeseeable directions, an initial award of custody may not always remain the arrangement that promotes the best interests of the child. Changes that arise such as the addition of step-parents or the potential relocation of one parent can cause modification lawsuits to be just as contentious, if not more so, than the original divorce action.
Thankfully Georgia has parameters in place to prevent repetitive modification lawsuits, which can cause a significant amount of tension between parents. Georgia law requires that a parent can only seek a change to the custody arrangement in place if he or she can demonstrate that there has been a material change of circumstances affecting the welfare of the child since the last custody award was entered. O.C.G.A. 19-9-3. The change can be either a positive or a negative change, but must be material in order to justify the Court revisiting a previous order.
Because Tarpley cites to Shepherd’s “demanding professional life” as the cause of his lawsuit, his lawsuit would be subject to attack in Georgia. Shepherd began her role as permanent co-host on “The View” in 2007 and the parties didn’t divorce until 2009. Therefore, she presumably already had a demanding work schedule when the original order was entered regarding custody of Jeffrey. If the case were being litigated in Georgia, Tarpley would need to demonstrate that the professional demands and time requirements of Shepherd’s job are substantially different than they were in 2009, or Shepherd could seek a dismissal of the suit altogether.
In the meantime, Sheperd’s current husband is seeking to set aside their Pre-Nuptial Agreement which reportedly guarantees that Shepherd has full custody of their unborn child. To find out whether Georgia law allows for Pre-Nuptial Agreements to cover custody of a child, read Leslie’s February, 2014 Celebrity Scenario Blog: http://www.odelloneal.com/blog/celebrity-scenarios/gabrielle-union-dwyane-wade/