If Hans Mills and Donna Mills were being judged by King Solomon and ordered to cut their children in half, Donna Mills strikes me as the type of mother who would go along with such a ruling... provided her ex were forced to pay the butcher fee.
Wading through the soggy mess that is the ruptured marriage of Hans and Donna Mills can leave one's head spinning and heart aching.
Hans, dubbed Canada's worst deadbeat father by some and hero by others, is a father of four no more. When faced with paying additional support, he chose to skip both town and country, leaving his kids and ex-wife behind for good.
Yet it's difficult to feel much sympathy for the ex-wife either. After reading all of the sordid details of this bitter split, one can't help but wonder what the woman was thinking.
She seems to truly hate her former husband more than she loves her children because most mothers I know, if placed in a similar situation, would figure that $2,235 in child support was probably enough. If money were tight, they would likely sell their $1.2 million dollar home (if they were lucky enough to own such an abode) and move to something a little less luxurious because kids don't actually need to live in a lakefront estate.
Most moms I know would be worried that if they hounded an ex for such an unreasonable amount of support, it would cause too much animosity and hard feelings, or possibly even drive their ex to contemplate suicide.
Divorce breeds a great deal of anger and resentment. I get it. And Donna Mills seems to have been dealt a bum hand. One child with Down syndrome. One with depression and another wrestling with a drug addiction. And the youngest, 10-year-old son, Steven, recently battled cancer.
At first glance, it's hard not to side with her.
But it's also hard to ignore the math.
Donna Mills was awarded the matrimonial house (valued at $1.2 million with $600,000 in home equity). She paid her husband a lump sum of $175,000 in order to keep the house and also waived the right to any spousal support. She did, however, receive $2,235 per month in child support, which her ex-husband appears to have dutifully paid (up until recently).
Afterwards, Donna decided that she wanted spousal support after all and claimed that she was "rushed and pressured and did not read" the documents before signing. She says she didn't fully understand what she was signing when she surrendered any further spousal support.
A judge apparently sided with Donna and Hans was forced to fork over an additional $1,537 per month in spousal support. Not to mention huge retroactive payments as well as his ex-wife's legal bills. Hans was earning roughly $100,000 per year.
Donna, on the other hand, has been receiving $2,500 per month in government assistance because of the health challenges faced by her two youngest children. The house also boasts a separate apartment, which reportedly generates nearly $2,000 in rental income. Add that to the child support once being paid by Hans, and it totals a fairly sizeable sum.
The fact that Donna would then seek additional support in the way of spousal support -- after already being awarded $425,000 by way of the house -- seems heavy-handed.
Hans apparently snapped and decided to head off for the Philippines with his new wife instead.
"The result of the legal instrument which you recently designed and implemented is that there is no possibility of a comfortable life or a (secure) retirement for me in Canada at all," he writes in an email to his ex-wife. "Therefore I have left the country to seek greener pastures elsewhere, and will never return. Well done Einstein."
I agree that our court system is stacked in the mother's favour. I agree that Canadian fathers all too often get the short end of the stick when it comes to custody or visitation rights and are required to pay what can sometimes be a punitive amount in support, especially if their employment situation has changed through no fault of their own.
However -- and there's really no getting around this fact -- Hans Mills is a first-class slimeball for not at least sending his monthly child support payments. Even if he can reason away the spousal support payments (and he has a good argument in that regard) he still has a responsibility to those children. His children.
If warring parents put half as much effort into trying to make things work as they do in trying to destroy the ex-spouse, children would be the better for it. Instead, too many parents choose conflict and children become the collateral damage.
Lydia Lovric is a regular contributor to The Hamilton Spectator, where this article originally appeared, and Urbanicity. www.lydialovric.comSuggest a correction