Sherri Shepherd’s Divorce: Is It a Wake-Up Call for Women?

The talk show host’s messy personal life offers women a lesson: Before settling, they should ask what their men bring to the table.

Sherri Shepherd and Lamar Sally attend the premiere of One for the Money at AMC Loews Lincoln Square on Jan. 24, 2012, in New York City.
Sherri Shepherd and Lamar Sally attend the premiere of One for the Money at AMC Loews Lincoln Square on Jan. 24, 2012, in New York City. Andy Kropa/Getty Images

Though she and her co-hosts regularly discuss the marital woes of other celebrities on their daytime talk show, The View, in recent days Sherri Shepherd has been noticeably silent about the relationship problems of one particular celebrity: her.

Multiple outlets have reported that Shepherd’s husband of three years, Lamar Sally, filed separation papers with Shepherd and filed for divorce shortly thereafter. While divorce is not an unusual occurrence today, particularly among celebrities, the circumstances of Shepherd’s divorce are unusual and have struck a nerve among women.

According to reports on the separation and divorce documents filed by both parties, Shepherd’s husband has filed for primary custody of the fetus currently being carried for the former couple by a surrogate mother. And it has not gone unnoticed that if Sally were to be awarded custody, he would benefit by receiving child support from Shepherd. It’s noteworthy because documents indicate that the two have a prenuptial agreement that would otherwise leave Sally with very little of the comedian’s fortune because their marriage is dissolving in less than five years.

To say that women, particularly women on sites with predominantly black audiences, are upset would be an understatement. The celebrity-news site Bossip ran the headline “Sherri Shepherd’s Shiftless Husband Demanding Full Custody of Unborn Surrogate Child!” while commenters shared the outrage. A sample of their thoughts:

“In Sally’s case he is pathetic and not what I would classify as a MAN! Where is his damn money? She made her money now he wants hers. Spousal support, he is a punk!”

And this:

“He is just another loser looking for a meal ticket. SMH…”

On the site the Young, Black and Fabulous, a commenter simply wrote, “Greedy Bastard, I smell a setup.” 

Of course the reality is that the same duplicitousness that Sally is being accused of is no different from behavior plenty of women have likely engaged in. When I interviewed Raoul Felder, the famed attorney known for representing celebrities and celebrity exes in divorce, custody and child support disputes for an article for The Root on child support laws, he admitted that he had had clients whose sole source of income was having kids by different wealthy men.

If we as women are going to express outrage at a man relying on a woman for his “come up,” so to speak, we should denounce women who engage in similar behavior. Not only is it unfair to those being taken advantage of (including children brought into such circumstances), but it also makes the rest of us look bad.