Judge grants Sanford request for divorce

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Sanfords' marriage-and-divorce saga ended as publicly as it began Friday in a Charleston courtroom where a family court judge granted the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. Sanford's request for divorce from SC Gov. Mark Sanford.

Paperwork still has to be filed and the divorce is expected to be official in mid-March.

The proceedings started shortly before the scheduled 11 a.m. start time and lasted just over 20 minutes.Only Mrs. Sanford was in attendance; the governor was represented by a pair of lawyers.

As the hearing began, Judge Jocelyn Cate said Gov. Sanford admitted to all of Mrs. Sanford's accusations. Mrs. Sanford asked for the divorce on the grounds of the governor's adultery.

In an affidavit, the governor said he wanted the court to approve the divorce.

When the Judge Cate questioned Mrs. Sanford about the details of her marriage, she said she worked to reconcile with the governor. She said the couple attended counseling and she even permitted the governor a chaperoned dinner with his mistress to end the affair.

The proceedings were marked with long, silent pauses, but did not lack humor. When Judge Cate asked Mrs. Sanford if she was expecting any more children, the first lady responded, "Oh, gosh, no."

Mrs. Sanford asked that a financial settlement between the couple be kept sealed to protect her children. The judge said she would take that under advisement, but had to reconcile Mrs. Sanford's desire for privacy with the public's legal access to such records.

Until the judge rules on the request for privacy, the records are effectively sealed.

The governor's office issued a statement shortly after the hearing completed.
"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," he said. 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."

Mrs. Sanford spoke briefly with reporters in the lobby of the courthouse after the proceedings concluded. She said she planned to remain at the family home on Sullivan's Island with the couple's four boys. She said the end of her 20-year marriage to the governor was not a reason to celebrate.

When asked what would come next for her, she replied, "I don't know. We'll see."

Gov. Sanford, after returning from a secret trip to Argentina in June, admitted to the affair and called the Argentine woman he was seeing his soul mate.

In December, the first lady filed for divorce. She cited the governor's summer disappearance and subsequent confessions as reasons the reconciliation failed.

Sanford is the first sitting South Carolina governor to divorce. In December, he also became the first governor censured by state lawmakers.

Jenny Sanford has written a memoir and is living with the couple's four sons.

©2010 WCSC. All rights reserved.