By Matt Allen
U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh is embroiled in a child support dispute in part because he made one of the biggest mistakes divorced dads can make: he relied on a verbal agreement to modify his child support orders.
Walsh’s ex-wife claims he owes $117,000 in child support and interest. The U.S. congressman from Illinois said he and his ex reached a verbal agreement on child support that they never formalized because they “were both tired of court appearances and the resulting emotional and financial impact on the family,” according to court documents.
His argument may be a tough sell to the judge because even if you and your ex-wife made an agreement on the side to lower the child support amount, the court may not recognize the agreement.
If you are ordered to pay a certain amount of child support, then that is the amount you must pay. You cannot change the court’s orders on your own.
Verbally agreeing to pay your ex-wife a different amount could be a costly blunder. If you don’t pay, you could be risking an accumulation of arrearages, fines, contempt charges, and even jail time.
How Much Should You Be Paying?
William Halaz III, a mens divorce attorney at Cordell & Cordell, said there are available options depending on the child support laws in your state.
“Often, you can modify the amount of child support if there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances, or you and your ex-wife can possibly execute an affidavit stating that you have paid the full amount,” Halaz said.
If a child support agreement is reached with your ex-wife then it is imperative that you have a new court order entered in order to protect yourself against liability for back child support in the future.
You should contact the divorce lawyers for men at Cordell & Cordell for more information or seek advice in our child support forum from fellow divorced dads.