Terrell Owens owes $20,000 in child support: How is that calculated?

No one ever said parenting was easy. Terrell Owens is finding that not parenting might turn out to be even harder.  According to WSBTV.com in Atlanta, Owens may face jail time for failing to pay over $20,000 in child support to Melanie Smith, the mother of his 7-year-old daughter. Owens owes $5,000 a month in child support which might seem outrageous to those of us who grew up with a $5 per week allowance and without an iPhone, iPad, iPod, or  i(Insert clever name here), but child support calculations take into account how much the paying parent makes. However, the popular belief that if you can only manage to have a kid with someone rich and famous, you will be rich is merely a myth. Here is an overview at how child support is calculated to give you a better understanding as to why Owens’ 7-year-old daughter might need $5,000 per month, why that is not as ridiculous as you might think, and why you might not hit the jackpot by having a kid with a celebrity.

According to the Child Support Enforcement Act, each state has guidelines for how to determine the amount of child support that is to be paid. The guidelines vary from state to state and so does the amount of leeway judges are given in determining the amount. Because of these differences, the amount of child support awarded in one state can vary drastically from the amount in another state under the same circumstances. Although the rules vary from state to state, here are a few factors that are commonly used:

The needs of the child (this includes but is not limited to daycare, school, and health insurance)

  • The standard of living the child was used to
  • The ability of the parent to pay
  • The amount of time the child is spending with each parent

So if we are talking about the daughter of a multi-millionaire athlete, she may spend all of her time with mom, she may be attending a private school, and she may even have nannies. A nanny alone can cost $2,000 per month and so it’s more clear now how Owens may owe that much in child support (Hey, at least he’s not paying for Suri Cruise!). Basically, the fact that Owens is rich is not the only reason his daughter is entitled to that amount of child support but a number of factors are considered in the decision.

In any case, less than 10 minutes into the hearing Judge John Goger called both attorneys into his chambers and as a result the hearing has been postponed until July 19th.  Owens has until then to pay or he’ll have a new world of problems to worry about, behind bars.


About Rajiv Radia

Rajiv is a third year law student at American University - Washington College of Law in Washington DC and a long time sports fanatic.
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