T.I. defends his role as father in support case
By ERRIN HAINES
ATLANTA – On T.I.’s latest single, the rapper brags about the lavish lifestyle his wealth could provide a lucky lady: top-shelf liquor, million-dollar homes, luxury cars, exotic vacations.
His largesse also extends to his four sons. But the eldest boys, ages 7 and 8, only partake of his prosperity on a part-time basis. They live mostly with their mother, whose yearly net income doesn’t equal a month’s mortgage payment on T.I.’s house.
Now LaShon Dixon – who met T.I. when she was 13 and became the mother of his first two children before he found fame – is asking a family court judge to order a more stable stipend commensurate with his success.
A ruling could come anytime.
“When the kids go to his house, they have a good life,” said Randy Kessler, Dixon’s attorney, who said the 29-year-old is currently unemployed, but has worked regularly as a hairdresser and is studying to get her cosmetology license.
“He gets them whatever they need,” Kessler said. “When they’re with her, they get whatever she can afford. For them to everything they want at his house and have to scrape by at her house is not fair.”
The judge heard arguments in the case last week. T.I.’s attorney, John Mayoue, called his client an “exemplary, very involved parent.”
“He has committed to the court that he will continue to support his children in a generous and loving manner, as he has done since their birth,” Mayoue said, adding that T.I., 27, is seeking joint legal custody of the children, who now spend about 40 percent of their time with him.
In a statement released through Mayoue earlier this week, T.I. said he not only pays Dixon $2,000 in cash a month, but also pays for the boys to be involved in sports, acting lessons, summer camp and other activities. He also funds their private school educations and pays their medical bills.
“She has chosen not to work and to live 100 percent from her child support receipts,” the statement reads. “This is the reason for her difficulties in making ends meet for herself.”
Kessler and Mayoue are both family law attorneys who have represented several high-profile clients in child support disputes, including attorney Willie Gary, comedian Chris Rock, entertainer Sean Combs and boxer Evander Holyfield.
Cases involving high-income earning parents are becoming more common, and judges are increasingly having to wrestle with what’s fair for someone for whom money is not a concern, Kessler said.
“Normally, a judge is just trying to figure out how a kid can eat, be educated and be sheltered,” he said. “In this case, the judge is making this decision without having to be concerned with the father’s financial constraints.”
In March, T.I. is expected to be sentenced to at least a year in prison after he pleaded guilty to federal weapon possession charges. In Fulton County Superior Court last week, T.I. said he could afford to pay whatever amount he is ordered.
“If there is any mother in Georgia who could be afforded the ability to be a stay-at-home mom … it is LaShon Dixon,” Kessler argued to the judge. “Isn’t that the standard of living of a family who can afford any amount of support?”