Toronto Star

Aug. 16, 2001, 04:24 EDT

Tongues wag in Ottawa over high-profile divorce

Award of spousal support could be a Canadian record

OTTAWA (CP) - It promises to be the most closely watched divorce in Ottawa since Pierre Trudeau split with his wife Margaret.

Former journalist Alana Kainz is seeking a lump-sum of $10 million and monthly payments of $100,000 from her estranged husband Michael Potter, founder of the software firm Cognos.

If granted, the divorce could set a record for spousal support in Canada, topping the award of $75,000 per month and a $1.3-million lump sum handed out earlier this year to the former wife of a Toronto real-estate developer.

With Kainz's and Potter's profile in Ottawa, and the apparent acrimony involved, the proceedings promise to keep tongues wagging.

Kainz appears set on litigating her case on the public record.

Court documents filed by her lawyers reveal intimate details of a relationship that began in 1995 after the shooting death of Kainz's first husband, sportscaster Brian Smith. Kainz and Potter were married in 1999.

In her divorce application, Kainz, 36, accuses Potter, 57, of ``misrepresentation'' in the breakdown of their marriage.

She contends he deceived her into having children by promising a lifelong commitment if she became pregnant.

After the birth of their second child, Potter told her that ``she was in the way of him having relationships with other women,'' she says in the divorce application.

Kainz is seeking $5 million for the alleged misrepresentation, plus another $5 million lump sum for support for herself and their two girls, ages 2 and 4.

She also alleges that Potter threatened to throw her out of his home unless she ``got a diagnosis with a mental illness.''

She estimates Potter's annual income at $10 million and has said the $15,000 in interim child support she is receiving is ``grossly inadequate.''

None of the allegations in the divorce application has been proved in court. Potter's lawyer, Gary Steinberg, said his client intends to defend the claim and has no intention of paying the $10 million.

Steinberg points to a marriage contract Kainz signed when she first moved into Potter's home in 1996. It stipulated that if the relationship ended before March, 2002, Potter would pay her a lump-sum settlement of $1 million. If they stayed together until March, 2006 that would rise to $2 million, then to $4 million up to 2010 and $6 million beyond that.

Kainz argues in court that the marriage contract is ``unconscionable'' and says she signed only because of ``repeated pressure'' from Potter. After signing, she contends, he said his only commitment was to having children, not to a life with her.

Kainz felt ``duped and completely devastated,'' she says in the divorce application.

She asks the court to have the agreement set aside.

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