COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina's first lady is filing for divorce.
In a statement issued Friday morning, Jenny Sanford said she is filing for divorce from Gov. Mark Sanford, who disclosed an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman after staff reports of a hiking trip on the Appalachain Trail fell apart under scrutiny.
"As so many of us know, the dissolution of any marriage is a sad and painful process. It is also a very personal and private one. Because Mark and I are public figures, we have naturally had less privacy with which to deal with our difficulties than do other couples. Indeed, I know it will soon become known so I choose to release this brief notice that I am now filing for divorce. This came after many unsuccessful efforts at reconciliation, yet I am still dedicated to keeping the process that lies ahead peaceful for our family.
I remain thankful to so many across this state and nation for their words of encouragement and prayers during this difficult time. Please know the boys and I are doing well and are blessed with the incredible support of friends and family and bolstered by our faith and the unfailing love of our God above."
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[Read the Divorce Court Summons (pdf).]
She and the couple's four boys had been living at the Sanfords' beachfront home on Sullivans Island while the governor has remained in the state capital of Columbia, occasionally visiting his family.
The governor issued a statement shortly after, stating "I want to take full responsibility for the moral failure" and asked for privacy as the couple proceeded with the split.
The governor's statement went on to say:
"While it is not the course I would have hoped for, or would choose, I want to take full responsibility for the moral failure that led us to this tragic point. Jenny is a great person, and has been a remarkable wife, mother and First Lady. She has been more than gracious these last six months and gone above and beyond in her patience and commitment to put the needs of others in front of her own. While our family structure may change, I know that we will both work earnestly to be the best mom and dad we can be to four of the finest boys on earth.
"I will join with her in asking the press to respect our shared desire for privacy as we quietly move forward. We respectively ask for your prayers."
Wednesday afternoon, the governor spoke briefly on Church Street in downtown Charleston about the impeachment resolution failing in the judiciary subcommittee. Moments before speaking, he exited the Franke Building, where Jenny Sanford's listed divorce attorney has offices.
Wednesday night, the first lady appeared on Barbara Walters' "Most Fascinating People of 2009" Special. Walters asked Mrs. Sanford if she thought the couple's marriage could survive. She responded, "the hurdles are significant."
Now questions are being raised about the first lady's role as the divorce proceedings play out and the couple's marriage comes to an end. Her only legal position as the governor's wife is as a member of the Lace House Commission.
The Lace House is a property next to the Governor's Mansion that is used for parties and receptions.
Representatives from the governor and the first lady have not yet responded to questions about what happens to the staff of the first lady when the divorce is finalized.