Former Cowboy Terrell Owens facing jail over back child support

In a matter of only weeks, NFL teams will open training camp, signaling the start of yet another exciting season. However, training camp isn’t the only football-related story generating headlines. Once again, embattled former star wide receiver Terrell Owens is facing potentially serious consequences surrounding his failure to pay child support.

Last Thursday, Owens failed to show up at a hearing in Fulton County, Georgia, regarding the $20,000 in back child support he owes to Melanie Paige-Smith, the mother of one of his four children.

The attorney representing Owens took the blame for his absence, indicating that he had not accurately communicated with his client.

The presiding judge was still very upset by Owens’ failure to attend the hearing and after meeting with both attorneys in his chambers declared that the hearing had been reset for this coming Thursday. Furthermore, he indicated that Owens could be put in jail if he fails to attend.

Paige-Smith has filed multiple contempt of court petitions over the course of the last year seeking to have Owens either put behind bars or fined for failing to pay her the $5,000 a month in child support that she is owed under the terms of an agreement.

Court documents allege that she has received no child support from Owens in 2012.

“It’s a tragedy, not only that we are here today; this is the third case she has had to file in the last year,” said Randall Kessler, Paige-Smith’s attorney.

It is worth noting that Kessler filed an amendment to petition for contempt last month, offering two text messages that Owens sent to Paige-Smith as evidence of “willful and egregious contemptuous actions, over and above the nonpayment of child support.”

One of these text messages read: “Not looking 4 pity, sympathy, nothing! I’ve never said I was broke. Tht’s what the media had said. Enjoy ur day.”

Interestingly, Owens originally claimed that his child support arrears could be attributed to financial issues caused by the NFL labor strike and asked the family court judge to lower his monthly child support payment to $2,500.

The family court judge ultimately refused this request, and Owens ended up paying Paige-Smith $10,000 in child support for June 2011 and July 2011, as well as court costs and attorney fees.

Owens has played for multiple teams since entering the NFL in 1996, including the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals. He has not played in the NFL since 2010, and has admitted to having major money problems.

He was slated to play as a wide receiver for the Indoor Football League’s Dallas- area based Allen Wranglers this coming season. However, the team released him earlier this summer with the team owner declaring that he “could no longer be tolerated.”

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about child support arrears or post-divorce issues, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


USA Today, “Could Terrell Owens be facing jail time?” Nate Davis, July 13, 2012

USA Today, “Court filing: TO sent ‘taunting text messages’ to child’s mother,” Nate Davis, June 6, 2012