The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that U.S. Representative Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) will be in a family court because he has failed to pay ordered child support. His former wife claims that the congressman is in arrears of $117,000.00, including interest, for the parties’ three children. The Sun-Times also reports that Representative Walsh admits not paying the ordered child support, but did so based on an agreement with his former wife:
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.
[Ms. Laura Walsh's attorney] Coladarci said [Rep.] 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.
Coladarci also said Laura Walsh never made any long-term agreement to let Joe Walsh out of his child-support responsibilities.
I see this type of scenario all the time in my Florida family law practice. The person who owes child support or alimony (the “Obligor”) says that he made an agreement with the person receiving court-ordered support (the “Obligee”), only for the Obligee to later deny either (i) the terms of the agreement or (ii) that the agreement ever existed.
The only way to ensure that an agreement to reduce alimony or child support is enforceable is to get a family law judge to ratify it. Additionally, if there has been a substantial change in circumstances and the Obligee refuses to agree to a reduction in your payments, you may be able to get the obligation reduced by re-opening your family law case.
Keep in mind that, if a judge reduces your support obligation, the reduction will only be retroactive to the date you filed a supplemental petition requesting reduction. You will still owe any back alimony or child support that accrued prior to filing the supplemental petition. In other words, the sooner you request that the Court reduce your support payments, the less money you will owe.
If you are looking to reduce your court-ordered child support or alimony payments and you wish to speak with a Florida family law attorney, schedule a consultation by calling us at (813) 443-0615 or filling out our contact form.