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Rep. Joe Walsh: I had ‘verbal’ deal not to pay child support

MundeleSunday 9/11/11 Congressman Joe Walsh during MundeleFire department dedicatiremembrance ceremony.  | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media

Mundelein Sunday 9/11/11 Congressman Joe Walsh during the Mundelein Fire department dedication and remembrance ceremony. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 16, 2011 2:01PM

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) says he hasn’t paid his court-ordered child support because he and his ex-wife reached a “verbal agreement” three years ago that he could stop paying her child support.

Laura Walsh says her ex-husband, elected to Congress last year as a leading voice of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, owed her $117,000 in child support and interest.

Using the kind of strong language he has become known for as a congressman, Walsh lashed out at his ex-wife Wednesday, accusing her and her attorney of breaking state law by “blatantly and knowingly submitting false information in her pleading.”

The thick nine-year-old divorce file in Cook County Circuit Court chronicles how every few years Laura Walsh has gone to court saying her ex-husband is not paying and asking a judge to order him to pay, sometimes garnishing his wages.

In her pleading three weeks after Walsh was elected to Congress, Laura Walsh said that from November 2005 to March, 2008, Walsh made only half-payments, failing to make required “second or third monthly $500 payments” on top of the $1,135 being deducted from his check.

Then he stopped making payments altogether in March of 2008, telling her he “had no income.”

Walsh admitted the second part of that Wednesday, but said it was by mutual agreement because he was making very little money, she was making good money, and the kids were spending as much time with him as with her: “Joe admits that as of April 1, 2008, he did not pay Laura direct child support. However, he asserts that he should have been relieved of this obligation,” according to his filing.

But Joe Walsh said he was making the $500 payments. As evidence he attached photocopies of canceled checks bearing the signature of a “Laura Walsh” dated from the middle and often the end of the month from November 2005 through late 2006/early 2007, when they begin to taper off.

Joe Walsh also attached checks sent to his children’s Catholic high school and notes, “He has made arrangements to pay off his past-due balance to Loyola Academy.”

Walsh argues that because his income dipped as low as $11,733 for all of 2008 while his ex-wife earned $139,796, he could have gone to court to ask a judge to lower his obligations or have her pay child support to him, but he chose not to.

“Joe and his former wife were both tired of court appearances and the resulting emotional and financial impact on the family. Neither party had the financial or emotional wherewithal to continue the battle,” Walsh’s attorney wrote.

“During this time, Laura appeared to be acting as a mature, non-litigious adult, interested in working out the parenting and financial issues with Joe without the need of judicial intercession,” the pleading continued.“He reasonably relied on Laura’s representations and conduct, to his detriment.”

After a judge ruled against Walsh in his absence last month, Laura Walsh was asked outside the courtroom how she and her children had gotten by with over the past several years with little or no financial aid from her ex-husband. “It’s been extremely difficult,” she told a reporter. “We get through one day at a time.”

Joe Walsh angrily responded to that quote in his pleading Wednesday, saying, “The truth is the children have experienced an unabated life of private instruction, private schools, dance classes, private sports instruction, and European trips and she has enjoyed a six-figure income.”

In a media release Wednesday, Walsh said, “I don’t know why my ex-wife filed this complaint last December, three weeks after I was elected a U.S. congressman.”

Laura Walsh’s attorney, Jack Coladarci, said his client stands behind everything she said in her December pleading, which they began working on back when Joe Walsh was largely unknown, after Laura Walsh saw that the then-candidate had lent his campaign $35,000.

“Last year, when she came to us, nobody thought he was going to win that race,” Coladarci said. “This wasn’t going after a congressman — it was about a guy who had enough money to fund a campaign.”

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