Brittney Griner and ex-wife Glory Johnson fight over child support


Lawyers for high-profile WNBA players Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson returned to Maricopa County Superior Court for a child support hearing Thursday afternoon in the long-standing legal battle between the estranged couple.

The issue was the cost of caring for the couple’s premature twins, Ava Simone and Solei Diem, born at 24 weeks gestation. Johnson became pregnant with the girls through in vitro fertilization during her brief marriage to Griner.

The twins currently live in Tennessee with Johnson, who posted a recent photo of babies on Instagram this week for National Siblings Day.

Griner and Johnson, who had phoned for the hearing, detailed their schedules on and off the basketball court to describe a reasonable expectation of the amount of babysitting Johnson’s twins would need.

Johnson said the premature babies had many costly medical issues. Ava had to be resuscitated when she stopped breathing for 6 minutes on the second day, and Solei had difficulty breathing and had to have laser eye surgery. Both girls had brain bleeds and also had to have heart surgery, she said.

Although they were able to return home with Johnson on February 1, the girls need daily physical therapy and frequent doctor visits. Johnson’s mother and her two sisters are helping with the care, having quit their previous job to provide assistance, she said.

Johnson is expected to move to Dallas within a month to play for the Dallas Wings in the next season. She said she will have to seek hired help when away from her children for training and games, and estimated that she needed $ 6,000 per month for Griner support.

To Griner and his lawyer, Tifanie McMillan, the cost seemed unreasonable. Since the girls were born, Griner has paid $ 2,665.81 per month in support. Continuing, they said they expect to pay in the same range.

“Do you know what it’s like to take care of twins?” Do you know what it’s like to take care of premature twins? Johnson’s attorney, Stacy Click, pointedly asked Griner.

“No, I don’t,” Griner replied, but went on to say that she didn’t trust the numbers Johnson provided.

According to McMillan, some medical records failed to reach Griner, despite several requests. And in the past, Johnson had attempted for Griner to financially support his two sisters by hiring them as assistants. To Griner’s knowledge, Johnson’s sisters and mother were unemployed prior to Johnson’s pregnancy.

DNA tests were ordered for the girls at a hearing on February 18. On March 17, Johnson asked Griner to send a mobile DNA testing service to his home, alleging the girls were unable to go out due to health concerns. Griner said she complied and spent the extra money on the service. However, the next day on Twitter, she saw a link to a photo posted by Johnson showing the babies had been taken to a basketball game.

McMillan then recited a news article in which Johnson told a reporter that his children were in very good health.

Johnson said Griner was the one who pushed for two babies, even though the couple had been warned by doctors of the higher health risks during the fertilization process. However, Griner then took issue with Johnson’s claim, saying “she said she wanted the babies with or without someone.”

“It includes me – with me or without me,” Griner said.

McMillan has repeatedly stated that Griner has no problem paying child support and medical bills, adding that Griner only requires that she receive medical records and receipts.

At the close of the hearing, Judge Timothy Thomason agreed that $ 2,516.97 is a reasonable monthly payment for child support. An official decision is expected next week.

The tumultuous relationship between Griner and Johnson has been widely publicized, with their active social media presence.

A June 29 motion details Johnson’s claim that Griner pay $ 20,000 a month in spousal support, in addition to an advance of $ 10,000 for attorney fees. In August, the court ruled there was no legal basis for the annulment and also dismissed Johnson’s spousal support claim.

Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury, is a two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year and is the league’s top shot blocker. Johnson, previously for the Tulsa Shock, is a two-time WNBA star and the league’s third rebounder.

The two women were charged with assault and disorderly conduct following a domestic violence altercation at their Goodyear home in April 2015. Their arrests resulted in a seven-game suspension by the league.

Griner’s charges have since been dropped: the assault charge when she pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in April 2015, and the latter charge in January after completing a domestic violence diversion program, according to the files of the Goodyear Municipal Court.

The assault charge against Johnson, who was absent for the 2015 season due to her pregnancy, was dropped when she pleaded guilty in November to disorderly conduct.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of the story incorrectly pointed to the charges against Glory Johnson and the town she and Brittney Griner resided in in April 2015.


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