Calling it a "misguided attempt" to exploit his new position as a member of Congress, Joe Walsh says his ex-wife is lying about not receiving some of the $117,437 in missing child support funds she says she's owed.
In fact, he says he paid extra from November 2005 to June 2007.
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The McHenry Tea Partyer, however, admits he did not pay child support from March 2008 to December 2010, but says he and his former wife had a verbal understanding that they would divide the children's expenses but neither would pay the other child support. The couple's children are ages 24, 20, and 16.
In the 31-page filing submitted to the Cook County circuit court's Domestic Relations Division Tuesday afternoon, Walsh, the freshman who in the last eight months has catapulted onto a national stage with his charismatic candor and caustic rhetoric decrying government spending, argues that he's been "pummeled by the media" since allegations he owed years of child support first broke in July.
To shake the "deadbeat dad" title, he says, he feels "forced to reveal the truth publicly."
Walsh, in the filing, asked the judge to deny Laura Walsh's requests to increase his current child-support payments, suspend his drivers' license and freeze his accounts until he makes good on past-due bills. He also wants to be reimbursed for the legal fees he's incurred in fighting the allegations.
Jack Coladarci, attorney for Laura Walsh, said he became aware of the filing late in the day and was still in the process of analyzing its contents.
"I haven't seen the checks (Walsh attached to the filing) and I'm going to have to sit down with her to make sure we haven't missed anything," he said. "I don't know whether any of those checks addressed directly the claims we made."
Laura Walsh filed the child support claim Dec. 6, contending that Walsh was in contempt for "failure and refusal" to pay full child support from November 2005 through December 2010, amounting to $99,480, or $117,437 with interest.
Walsh has pointed to that timing -- three weeks after his surprise defeat of three-term Congresswoman Melissa Bean -- as suspicious. Coladarci says that's not the case.
"What does the congressman think we should have done? Not filed because he was a congressman?" Coladarci said. "I think it's a very funny thing to say. No! (He has) a job for Pete's sake. Of course we're going to file."
Right now, $2,136 in child support is being taken every month from Walsh's congressional paychecks.
Laura Walsh, in the lawsuit, says that while her ex-husband loaned his own campaign $35,000 and took vacations, he said he couldn't afford child support payments.
She says her ex-husband has repeatedly ignored requests and refused to make required payments. Walsh's annual income fluctuated from $86,030 to $11,733 as he worked various positions from 2005 to 2010, with investment firm Advantage Futures, the United Republican Fund and as a self-employed consultant, according to court documents.
He points to income tax returns showing his ex-wife's 2008 income of $139,796 as an attorney with Eli Lilly credit union, and $122,771 in 2009.
Yes, Laura Walsh did have a stable source of her own income, Coladarci said, "but it's not relevant, in terms of what he should have paid. More importantly, she had to raise those three kids on her income alone."
Walsh's filing claimed his ex-wife "agreed to Joe not paying any direct child support from April 2008 forward."
Walsh never went to court seeking a modification in the $2,136 child support amount he owed each month, he admits in his filing.
"He could have and he would have," Walsh's attorney, Janet Boyle, said Tuesday.
"But it was her conduct that caused him to rely on it. The reverse is also absolutely true. She could have come to court at any time and collected the $2,135 she thought she was owed. She didn't. Why didn't she? Yes, Joe could have, and in hindsight Joe should have (gone to court)."
Coladarci said Walsh's argument to apply a legal doctrine called "equitable estoppel" -- allowing him to prove verbal agreements were reached between him and his ex-wife outside of court -- is "one of the only defenses he would have had."
Joe and Laura Walsh were married in 1987, court records show.
Laura Walsh filed for divorce in 2002. In March 2004, the pair entered into a joint parenting agreement and were awarded joint custody. Their eldest son went to live with Walsh; the younger son and daughter went to live with their mother.
According to that agreement, both parties were to "equally share" medical and dental, educational and extracurricular expenses.
Laura Walsh says she has paid "100 percent of these joint bills and expenses."
But in his court filing Tuesday, Joe Walsh included copies of checks sent to Loyola Academy and St. Athanasius schools, along with checks for child support he says she considers missing.
"Joe even paid veterinarian fees for the children's dog -- clearly not an expense he would have been required to pay if the parties were following the terms of the existing support order," Joe Walsh's filing reads.
Walsh was making no comments Tuesday on the filing.
In an email, Walsh's spokesman Justin Roth noted "today's pleading was the Congressman's first opportunity to get the full and true story submitted for the record. The pleading and supporting evidence clearly shows that Laura Walsh and her attorney's blatantly submitted false information in her pleading in an effort to tarnish the Congressman's reputation."