Gov. Robert Bentley agrees to divorce settlement, asks judge to unseal records

Governor Robert Bentley
Photo Credit: AP

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and first lady Dianne Bentley have agreed to a divorce settlement, ending their 50-year marriage, the governor’s office said Monday.

The settlement was filed Monday, just four weeks after the first lady filed for divorce, saying their marriage had suffered an “irretrievable breakdown.” The governor said he has asked a judge to unseal the case file so the public and media can see it.

“The last four weeks have been a very difficult time for my family and for our state. The people of Alabama have prayed for us and have encouraged us. For that, I am extremely grateful,” Bentley said in a statement.

“Today, Dianne and I have reached a mutual agreement in our proceedings. I have asked Judge Philip Lisenby to unseal settlement documents so the public and the media will have full access to it. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. I am truly blessed and deeply honored to serve as your governor.”

A judge sealed the divorce file from public view three days after it was filed at the request of the Bentley’s.

Dianne Bentley, in her divorce filing, asked for possession of the couple’s homes in Tuscaloosa and Fort Morgan, alimony and a division of other assets.

“Plaintiff states that there is such a complete incompatibility of temperament that the parties can no longer live together. That there exists a conflict of personalities which destroys the legitimate aims of matrimony and all possibilities of reconciliation are futile,” Dianne Bentley’s attorney L. Stephen Wright Jr. wrote in the Aug. 28 filing.

While the divorce filing said the Bentleys had been separated since January, the couple continued to travel together and made appearances at public events. The Bentleys made a joint appearance in Montgomery with college mascots less than an hour after the divorce papers were stamped as filed.

The couple met at the University of Alabama, when Bentley, a dermatologist, was in his first year of medical school. Dianne Bentley said during campaign interviews that she worked in medical labs for $325 a month to help put him through medical school. They have four adult sons, seven granddaughters and one grandson.

When Bentley, a legislator from Tuscaloosa, launched his longshot bid for governor in 2010, his wife said at the time she was not excited at the prospect of being a politician’s wife, but grew to love visiting the state’s small towns.

“I’m just a very shy person. I’m not comfortable out with people and crowds,” she said in an interview. She often drove him to his early campaign events because his campaign could not afford many paid staff members.

The couple marked their 50th wedding anniversary in July. The first couple, or their public relations staff, traded anniversary well wishes via their official social media accounts.

“Today @FirstLadyDB and I celebrate another wonderful year of marriage. Happy Anniversary Dianne!” the governor wrote as he tweeted a photo from their 1964 wedding.

The divorce settlement caps what has been a trying year, both politically and personally, for Bentley. The Republican governor began his second term in January saying he was determined to lead more and demonstrate a more aggressive political style. Bentley spent much of the 2015 trying to convince lawmakers in his own party to raise taxes in the face of a budget shortfall.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.