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Terrell Owens pays child support to avoid possible jail time

ATLANTA -- Former NFL star Terrell Owens has made child-support payments that he owed to the mother of his 7-year-old daughter, avoiding the threat of jail time.

Owens appeared in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta on Thursday, after failing to appear for a court date last week. His lawyer and a lawyer for Melanie Smith had come to an agreement before the hearing and signed it in front of the judge. Owens made the back payments he owed to Smith and agreed to pay her legal fees, according to court documents.

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"We're pleased. It's too bad it took this long," Smith's lawyer, Randy Kessler, said after the agreement was signed. "If he's not going to be there physically, he needs to be there financially."

Owens left the court without speaking to reporters. A lawyer for Owens didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

A previous agreement requires Owens to pay Smith $5,000 per month. This was the third case Smith has brought against Owens for non-payment of child support, Kessler said. In previous instances, Owens has settled and paid up right before the cases were to go to court but then failed to make subsequent payments, Kessler said.

Smith, who lives in northwest Georgia, is glad to have the signed agreement but would really like for Owens to be more involved in their daughter's life, Kessler said.

"What she really wants is for him to have a relationship with his child," Kessler said.

Smith, who also was present in court Thursday, said her daughter has seen Owens about eight to 10 times.

Owens has raised the possibility of lowering his monthly child support payments since he's no longer drawing an NFL salary, and Smith is willing to discuss that, Kessler said.

Owens, a 38-year-old wide receiver, played 15 years in the NFL, most recently for the Cincinnati Bengals during the 2010 season. Before his single season with the Bengals, Owens played one season with the Buffalo Bills, three with the Dallas Cowboys, two with the Philadelphia Eagles and eight with the San Francisco 49ers.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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