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Father of 27 owes child support


A Dayton man who shocked a television audience Friday when he announced he has 27 kids, has child support orders on 21 of them.

Local poet and performer Nathaniel Smith, while appearing in an episode of “Divorce Court,” told the judge he had fathered 27 children, including 12 sons and 15 daughters.

Smith wouldn’t reveal how much money he owes in child support or say how much he pays monthly. Smith said that information is no one’s concern, but his.

“I take care of mine, or attempt to,” said Smith, adding he has child support orders on 21 of his children and has custody of two.

Smith was arrested by Dayton police Friday on a failure-to-appear warrant related to a child support issue in Montgomery County Juvenile Court. Smith, who was released Monday, said the arrest was the result of a paperwork snafu.

“I have arrears. I am paying currently every week,” Smith said. “I love my kids. I never ran from the responsibilities. I’m not an absent father by no means. I don’t have no kids’ moms begging me to spend time with my kids.”

Individual child support records are confidential and are not considered public records, according to the Montgomery County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services.

Non-custodial parents in Ohio owed nearly $2 billion dollars in child support in Fiscal Year 2012, of that $1.31 billion was collected, according to state data.

“While a 66.5 percent collection rate beats the national average, there is still a significant amount of money out there that is not collected,” Ben Johnson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services said. “Ultimately, what we want is for non-custodial parents to pay something.”

The amount of child support each parent pays can vary based on income and the number of children involved.

According to a 2009 report by the U.S. Census Bureau, the average child support payment to a custodial parent based on a legal award or an informal agreement was $445 per month or $5,350 a year. The average child support payment actually received was about $280 a month or $3,350 annually.

Under federal law, if a parent fails to pay child support the state can suspend his/her driver’s license, garnish wages, freeze bank accounts, seize assets, deny a passport and, in extreme cases, hold mom or dad criminally liable.

Smith, 39, was on the reality court show with his 23-year-old wife, Jasmine Cotton, who accused him of adultery and preying on younger women. Judge Lynn Toler, host of “Divorce Court” ordered Smith to pay Cotton $1,200 toward the support of their nearly one-year-old son. The show was tapped in June.

“Mr. Smith, you hurt people,” Toler said. “You have no right to do what you’ve done.”

Smith, whose eldest child is 21, said he is in contact with all of his children, except five.

He knew his Divorce Court appearance would create a splash, but he didn’t know the reactions would be so condemning.

“People say I need to be in jail. If I were to go to jail, what about my kids …, what about them?” the Patterson Co-Op High School graduate asked. “People are going to be people.”

Before losing his barbershop a decade ago and his barber license around 2006, Smith said he had plenty of money. In recent years, his children’s mothers have contributed more.

“They had to step up. Nobody is missing a beat. I don’t have no poor looking kids,” Smith said. “I am blessed is all I’ve got to say.”


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