Gilbert Tso Update: Equal Parenting Order! Onerous Child Support

August 18, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

This is a brief follow-up on the Gilbert Tso case. He’s part of the leadership of the National Parents Organization in Colorado and one of the best advocates for family court reform I know. Here’s my original piece on Tso (NPO, 2/28/14).

Tso’s the dad who lived with his wife and daughter in Illinois. One day he came home to find his wife, Rebecca Murray, moving out with their daughter who was then four. To try to put a stop to her simply absconding with the child, Tso filed for divorce and requested custody. The Illinois court of course refused him custody despite Murray’s clear intention to deprive their daughter of her father. Then it allowed her to move to Colorado with the girl despite the fact that Illinois was the only place the child had ever lived, gone to school, etc.

That meant Tso had to move too. So he followed his ex to Colorado and they all established residency there. Months later, Tso was surprised that the Illinois court that no longer had personal jurisdiction of any of the three entered a child support order. Murray of course was happy with that since Illinois child support guidelines are far more generous to custodial parents than are those of Colorado.

She’s still happier with how the Illinois judge went about deciding the amount of support Tso should pay. Tso had worked for a total of three months at a job that paid him $155,000 a year. But he’d been laid off and, despite documented efforts to find work, had no employment at the time the judge issued his order. But of course the judge issued one anyway imputing income to Tso of – you guessed it – $155,000 per year.

What was the evidence before the court that Tso was able to make that amount at the time the order was issued? None whatsoever. In the absence of evidence, the attorney for Tso’s ex-wife simply volunteered the information in court and the judge accepted it as true. (As an attorney I can only marvel at a lawyer’s being allowed to supply his own evidence when he has no other. Hey, we can all win cases that way.)

So where was Tso when the lawyer and the judge were collaborating to ruin his life? He was in Colorado, unable to attend the hearing in Illinois because – irony of ironies – he couldn’t afford to travel to Illinois to defend himself. Here’s a guy who can’t afford a lawyer, is on the verge of bankruptcy and can’t even take a bus to Illinois to represent himself, having his child support calculated on earnings of $155,000 a year. Did it occur to anyone that if he were earning or could earn that much, he’d probably have a lawyer? No, that’s far too sensible and, to put it mildly, good sense isn’t the long suit of family courts. Where’s Charles Dickens when we need him?

Tso, who’s been representing himself during most of the divorce and custody litigation, appealed the Illinois court’s child support order. That appeal will be heard soon.

But the good news is that Tso managed to wrangle a 50/50 parenting order out of the Colorado court. Despite much trial, tribulation and heartache, despite losing one job and being forced to move to another state, despite falling on hard financial times and fighting custody and support issues in two states without the assistance of an attorney, Gilbert Tso has prevailed in the most important aspect of his case. His ex-wife tried to take their child and run, depriving the girl of her father and the father of his daughter. But that effort’s finally come to naught.

Will she run again? Will she decide she needs to move yet again to yet another state? Will yet another court agree? I suppose we’ll see. If she does any or all of those things, will some judge somewhere finally figure out what an Illinois judge should have seen in the beginning – that there’s only one parent here who understands a child’s need for both parents? Again, we’ll see.

But I doubt it. That’s because Murray and her lawyer are up to something far more insidious and probably illegal. Tso’s been ordered to pay over $2,400 per month in child support. While his appeal is pending, his arrears have gone up and up. So he’s in a panic about how he’s going to pay what he plainly can’t.

Now one of the things he has to prove to the judge is that he’s diligently trying to find work. So he periodically files affidavits with the court listing which recruiters he’s contacted, what companies he’s applied to, what jobs he’s sought, etc. Now you’d think that a mother who’s not getting any child support because her ex has no money, would be eager for him to find a good job and start paying.

Not Murray. She and her lawyer have been taking those affidavits and contacting every recruiter, company, etc. to make sure they know about Tso’s child support problems and scare them away from hiring him. And it’s worked. They’ve dropped Tso like a hot rock.

(That behavior on their part looks suspiciously like tortious interference with business relations to me, a cause of action I hope Tso pursues at some point.)

But why would a mother do such a thing? Why would she maliciously cut off such a potentially bountiful source of income for herself and her child? My guess is that she figures the deeper into child support debt she can force Tso, the greater the likelihood that a court will reverse the 50/50 parenting order. In any case, if Tso goes to jail for non-payment of support, that fact alone will serve to nullify his parenting time. And if he spends a year in jail, I’m sure Murray figures she can get a judge to enter a sole custody order on her behalf. After all, the child’s father hasn’t spent any time with her in a year!

So her outrageous conduct is far worse than simple interference with business relations; it’s interference with his relationship with his daughter. It’s an attempt, like her move to Colorado, to take a father out of the life of his child. Will any court notice? Will any court care?

That’s what it looks like from here. It’s the most outrageous case I’ve seen in a long time.


National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

#parentalalienation, #Colorado, #childsupport, #tortiousinterferencewithbusinessrelations

3 replies on “Gilbert Tso Update: Equal Parenting Order! Onerous Child Support”

This is NOT an isolated case by any means! I am personally involved in a case similar to this, in that, during the final trial the former wife and her counsel decided to arbitrarily inflate my husband’s income to double in spite of what was on the record as entered into evidence AND that he’d had in place with temporary orders! The judge instructed the opposing counsel to draft the proposed orders and CORRECT the income, which she did not do! The final order in one place says he has a WEEKLY salary and in the next line down says BIWEEKLY salary!! It contradicts itself and he’s been fighting to get before the judge for over a year and a half who keeps denying him the right to be heard. Soon after this order he lost his car, his job and his home…and can still not recover, because of the enforcement against him and suspending his CDL license. The former wife has already come forward to show she knew what the income was and has done nothing to correct it. There are no remedies!

If for nothing else, this article illustrates the extreme downside for missing a court date. It’s worse than stepping off a cliff as the judgement can bury you underwater for 18 years or longer.

You can avoid this.

Importantly, get your employer on-board you may need a day off for personal legal business. Appropriately forewarned, most can accommodate your needs.

Second, if you know the court is away, plan how to get there.

Don’t have two dimes to rub together? Not an insurmountable problem. College kids get coast-to-coast for only the cost of meals at roadside diners. Roll up your best suit in an overnight bag with the legal paperwork you’ll need, get to the nearest truck stop and hold up a sign that says “Divorce Court Chicago”. You’ll get there.

Some claim family court is biased against men. Even if true, it pales to a vanishing point against the bias against a parent failing to appear. Don’t be that parent.

Divorce Corp suggest that some people try to get married in a big city with an intention to get divorce and spousal support and move to a state with low cost of living for a comfortable living. How unfair! Our cause shall prevail. Maybe Tso manages to setup some donation soliciting site on the Internet. Good luck.

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