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Judge to hear arguments on whether Rep. Walsh owes child support

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh

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Updated: January 23, 2012 4:10AM

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and his ex-wife will go before a judge next month and make their best arguments about whether Walsh owes and must pay $100,000 in back child support, lawyers for the two parties agreed Friday.

“My client wants this resolved,” Joe Walsh’s attorney Janet Boyle, told Cook County Judge Raul Vega.

Both sides agreed to come in Nov. 8 for a “pretrial conference” to try to resolve the dispute without going to a full-fledged trial.

“I want both parents here,” Vega said.

After the court hearing, Boyle said: “Congressman Walsh wants to resolve all of this, put it behind him and prove the allegations that he’s a deadbeat dad are not true. He’s a good dad, and he supported his children, and he’s not a deadbeat dad.”

Laura Walsh’s attorney, Jack Coladarci, said the congressman could resolve the court case by paying the $100,000 in child support he owes for his three children — two of them now adults — plus $17,000 in interest.

This child-support case has garnered national attention in part because after less than a year in Congress, Walsh, a McHenry Republican, has become a leading voice of the Tea Party wing of his party, lecturing President Barack Obama on fiscal responsibility.

Coladarci questioned the propriety of Walsh’s congressional staff issuing a news release critical of him and Laura Walsh on congressional stationery.

Under his congressional seal on a statement sent Wednesday to reporters around the country, Rep. Walsh said Coladarci and Laura Walsh “broke Illinois state law” by “blatantly and knowingly submitting false information in her pleading.”

Coladarci responded that the allegation he filed in court that Walsh owes $100,000 in child support is accurate.

“We’ll stand behind everything that’s filed,” Coladarci said. “Congressman Walsh is having his congressional office issue statements against her — that’s an interesting use of taxpayer money. She doesn’t have those resources.”

Joe Walsh’s attorney filed his own pleading Wednesday outlining his defense against Laura Walsh’s charge that he owes $100,000 going back to 2005. In it, Walsh acknowledged that he made no child-support payments from March 2008 until his ex-wife’s attorneys started garnishing money from his congressional paycheck this year.

Walsh said he had a “verbal agreement” with his ex-wife allowing him to stop paying child support because his income had fallen, hers had gone up, and the children were living with him as much as with her.

Coladarci said Walsh should have gone to court to modify the judge’s order regarding child support if he felt he couldn’t afford the payments because the court order is an obligation to the couple’s children, not to his ex-wife.

“Judges do not recognize agreements between parties to reduce child support,” Coladarci said.

Coladarci also said Laura Walsh never made any long-term agreement to let Joe Walsh out of his child-support responsibilities.

“He would tell Laura, ‘I’m not making any money. I can’t afford to pay child support.’ So she would agree to take a reduction in the support. But she never gave up her right to collect that support,” Coladarci said. “She had to use her own money to cover him and his expenses at the times when he wasn’t making payments for the kids’ education and everything else. She had to get something to help out, and it was still tight. There were still tuition issues with the schools. Him treating her like a bank isn’t fair — taking out an interest-free loan, we think that payment in full is appropriate.”

In his filing Wednesday, Walsh attached copies of checks he sent to his wife in 2005, 2006 and 2007 that appear to rebut charges from his ex-wife that Walsh made only half-payments on his child support for those years.

But Coladarci said Friday that his initial review of the checks show they were for other obligations — and not for the monthly child-support obligations.

Referring to photocopies of checks Walsh included in his pleading, including some to his children’s extra-curricular activities, Coladarci said, “It seems to be more of a political document than a document answering the allegations. He’s making arguments that, ‘I’m a good father’ and ‘Look at all the money I spent on my children.’ ”

Boyle agreed after court to forward Coladarci copies of Joe Walsh’s 2010 income-tax returns, which he and Laura Walsh have never seen, Coladarci said.

“He didn’t provide her with tax returns until 2011 — that’s the first time she saw any tax returns,” Coladarci said. “We’re curious to see what his income there was. He was telling Laura he had ‘no money’ to make payments.”

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