Sherri Shepherd claims estranged hubby pilfered around $20K from their joint bank account before he split ... and the money could end up as a key piece of evidence in their custody war.
Sources close to the couple tell us Sherri was in the dark until she looked at a recent bank statement and saw the money was gone.
The fired "View" host is disavowing the contract she and Lamar Sally signed with a surrogate on grounds Lamar defrauded Sherri -- that the only reason he wanted the baby was so he could divorce her and collect child support. We're told Sherri will use the $20K withdrawal as proof Lamar was purely money-motivated.
Sources tell us Lamar used the money for baby expenses ... including trips he took to Pennsylvania to be with the surrogate. He also claims Sherri knew full well he took the money out of their joint account.
Lamar has yet to hear from Sherri since the baby was born.