The 48-year-old faces a back child-support bill in Ontario of more than half a million dollars: the accumulation of a debt that accrues steadily at more than $17,000 per month. On the set ofServitude, a film shot in Toronto last year, “I told the production guys, I have a court appearance on Monday and there’s a good chance I’ll be in jail on Monday afternoon,’” Foley said in an interview with the Star.
During an appearance on comic Marc Maron’s WTF podcast last month, Foley explained that his marriage to Toronto writer Tabatha Southey ended during his run on NBC’s five-year hit comedyNewsRadio, and he has failed in his efforts to adjust his child support downward to reflect his new life after sitcom stardom.
“My income has dropped in the last 10 years, as anyone can tell from the number of s—ty movies I’ve been in,” says Foley. “I’m not exactly picking and choosing my projects.” However, four years ago, Superior Justice Nancy Backhouse denied his motion to vary his support payments.
In November 2010, a judge spared him immediate imprisonment but allowed the FRO to seek a warrant for Foley’s arrest — and 10 days in jail — without notifying him as soon as he misses or is late for a payment. Since he has missed payments, Foley assumes such a warrant now exists. (While declining to comment on this specific case, the FRO says payors are typically notified in advance of such action.)
Foley now owes $17,301.30 monthly toward his two children, who are both now teenagers: the $10,700 in child support agreed to in 2001, now raised to $12,301.30 to reflect cost of living increases, plus $5,000 a month toward the overdue $589,000 he already owes. For a performer, that means that once taxes and a 20 per cent commission are factored in, he has to earn $40,000 per month, he figures, before he can see a dime.
Southey’s lawyer, Jacqueline Mills, said Foley also owes arrears for private schools, mortgage payments, health care and tutoring, although she added a precise figure for those expenses did not exist.
“I have no comment on the scope of the payments, except that the arrears arose during times when Mr. Foley was making a very large income. Mr. Foley has tried to have the amounts changed a number of times, and after full hearings, his requests have been denied,” Mills wrote in an email to the Star. “Mr. Foley was ordered to provide details of his employment contracts. He has not done so, so we do not know what his income is.” [emphasis added]
That may explain what’s been going on here. Acting is a fickle business, and I’m willing to believe Foley when he says he simply isn’t being offered the high-paying jobs he had in the late 1990s. (A starring role in an Uwe Boll movie, in my opinion, is prima facie evidence that you’re desperate for work.)
But if you’re trying to get your support payments reduced because of a decreased income, you have to provide the court with documentation to back it up. If Foley did that, and the court rejected his evidence and made a support order based on his NewsRadio earnings, he probably had grounds for appeal. Instead, it looks like he decided to run away instead of fighting this.