If you are a WNBA fan, or if you are simply an avid follower of sports news, you may already be familiar with details surrounding the divorce of two WNBA players, Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson. Their divorce case presents several unique issues involving annulment, same sex divorce and assisted reproduction. But, before we get into these issues, some background facts may be helpful for those who are not familiar with the case.
In June 2015, after only 28 days of marriage, and just one day after Johnson announced she was pregnant with twins, Griner filed legal documents seeking an annulment of her marriage from fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson. According to Griner, she sought an annulment of the couple's marriage on the grounds of fraud and duress, claiming that Johnson used threats to force her into marriage despite her misgivings. Additionally, Griner minimized her relationship to Johnson's unborn children by alleging she was unaware when the in vitro fertilization resulting in Johnson's pregnancy had taken place. Ultimately, the presiding judge rejected Griner's request for an annulment, stating there was no legal basis for an annulment, but the judge did allow the case to proceed as a divorce action. Ever since, the couple has continued to contentiously litigate the issues of their divorce, which include allegations of infidelity, alimony, possession of the couple's marital residence, legal parentage of Johnson's unborn children, and division of marital assets and debts.
Recently, the judge entered a temporary order temporarily granting Griner exclusive use and possession of her Arizona home during the pendency of the divorce. However, this temporary order did not address the plethora of other interesting issues presented by the couple's divorce. As mentioned above, one of the more interesting issues presented by this same sex divorce is whether the court will determine that Griner is the legal parent of Johnson's twins. Although Griner's court documents allege she has no biological relationship to the children, if Johnson's claim that the couple planned to conceive via in vitro fertilization during the duration of their marriage is substantiated, Griner's biological connection to the children (or lack thereof) won't be important. Griner may still be considered the legal parent of the children, and thus obligated to pay child support, because the children were conceived during the marriage. Once the issues of parentage, child custody and child support are settled, the only issues left will be alimony and division of the couple's assets.
As with any other divorce in California, California's community property laws will govern the division of assets and debts, and because California is a no fault states, the parties' allegations of adultery will likely have minimal impact on the divorce. Regarding alimony, because of both women's history as WNBA players and their future earning potential, it is unlikely that Johnson will be successful in her quest to win a $20,000 per month alimony award. This case is still ongoing, and due to the unique issues presented, we expect any new developments in this case to be extremely interesting, so stay tuned to our Atlanta Divorce Team blog for updates on this fascinating case.