Brittney Griner, former wife Glory Johnson spar over child support

This article originally published on April 14, 2016.

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

At issue was the cost of caring for the couple's preemie twin infants, Ava Simone and Solei Diem, who were born at 24 weeks gestation. Johnson became pregnant with the girls via in-vitro fertilization during her brief marriage with Griner.

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

Griner and Johnson, who had phoned in for the hearing, went into great detail for their schedules on and off the basketball court in order to depict a reasonable expectation of how much child care Johnson’s twin girls would need.

Johnson said the preemies have had a slew of costly medical issues. Ava had to be resuscitated when she stopped breathing for 6 minutes on her second day, and Solei struggled to breathe and had to undergo laser eye surgery. Both girls had brain bleeds and required heart surgery, as well, she said.

Though they were able to go home with Johnson on Feb. 1, the girls require daily physical therapy and frequent doctor visits. Johnson’s mother and two sisters are assisting in the care taking, having left their previous jobs in order to provide help, she said.

Johnson is expected to move to Dallas within the month to play for the Dallas Wings in the upcoming season. She said she will need to seek hired help while away from her children for training and games, and estimated she needs $6,000 a month in support from Griner.

To Griner and her attorney, Tifanie McMillan, the cost seemed unreasonable. Since the birth of the girls, Griner has paid $2,665.81 a month in support. Continuing, they said they expect to pay in the same range.

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

“No, I do not,” Griner responded, but went on say that she does not trust any numbers provided to her by Johnson.

According to McMillan, certain medical records have failed to make their way to Griner, despite multiple requests. And in the past, Johnson had made attempts for Griner to support her two sisters financially by hiring them as assistants. To Griner's knowledge, Johnson’s sisters and mother were unemployed prior to Johnson’s pregnancy.

DNA testing was ordered for the girls at a Feb. 18 hearing. On March 17, Johnson requested Griner send a mobile DNA testing service to her home, alleging the girls were unable to go outside due to health issues. Griner said she complied and spent additional money on the service. However, the next day on Twitter, she saw a link to a photo Johnson posted showing the babies were taken to a basketball game.

McMillan went on to recite from a news article in which Johnson said to a reporter that her children were in great health.

Johnson said Griner was the one who pushed to have two babies, even though the pair were warned by doctors about higher health risks during the fertilization process. However, Griner went on to dispute Johnson’s claim, saying “she said she wanted the babies with or without someone.”

“That includes me -- with me or without me,” Griner said.

McMillan said multiple times that Griner has no issue paying for child support and medical expenses, adding that Griner only requires that she is provided 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 ruling is expected next week.

The tumultuous relationship between Griner and Johnson has largely been public, with their active presence on social media.

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

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 a forward for the Tulsa Shock, is a two-time WNBA All-Star and the league’s third-ranking rebounder.

Both women were prosecuted for assault and disorderly conduct following a domestic-violence altercation in 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 she completed a domestic-violence diversion program, according to Goodyear Municipal Court records.

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

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated the charges against Glory Johnson and the city where she and Brittney Griner resided in April 2015.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Brittney Griner, former wife Glory Johnson spar over child support