- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama’s first lady on Friday filed for divorce from Gov. Robert Bentley, saying their 50-year marriage has suffered an “irretrievable breakdown.”

A lawyer for Dianne Bentley wrote in the court filing that attempts at reconciliation would be futile. The filing said the couple, both 72, had separated in January.

“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,” attorney L. Stephen Wright Jr. wrote.

The governor’s office issued a brief statement requesting privacy during a “difficult time.”

“The Governor asks that you please respect the privacy of the Bentley family during this difficult time. There will be no further comment,” Bentley Communications Director Jennifer Ardis said.

The complaint was filed in Tuscaloosa, the couple’s home for most of their marriage. Court documents said Dianne Bentley’s lawyer intends to take the governor’s deposition in November.

The filing listed her address as the couple’s Tuscaloosa home and the governor’s as the Governor’s Mansion in Montgomery.

The divorce filing did not name any specific grievances beyond vague references to “incompatibility.” She signed the divorce papers on Wednesday.

While the divorce filing said the Bentleys had been separated for six months, the couple continued to travel together and made appearances at public events. The Bentleys made a public appearance in Montgomery on Friday, just 37 minutes after the divorce papers were stamped as filed in Tuscaloosa.

Dianne and Robert Bentley posed for pictures with university mascots outside the Governor’s Mansion for College Colors Day. The governor spoke briefly with reporters about an upcoming special session on the state’s budget crisis, but didn’t mention the divorce, The Decatur Daily reported.

The second-term Republican governor is a social conservative who made national news earlier this year with his decision to remove Confederate flags from the Alabama Capitol grounds. He signed controversial legislation, putting restrictions on immigration and abortion clinics- laws that were largely overturned by the federal courts- but has most recently ruffled feathers within the Republican Party by calling for $300 million in tax increases to fix a budget shortfall.

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 first ran for governor, 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.

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.

“God has blessed us w/ 50 years of marriage. I thank him for health, family, faith, and most of all His love and grace,” Dianne Bentley posted on her official Twitter account with a photo of the couple hugging.

The governor tweeted a photo from their 1964 wedding.

“Today @FirstLadyDB and I celebrate another wonderful year of marriage. Happy Anniversary Dianne!” the governor wrote.

Robert Bentley was a state legislator when he launched what was a longshot bid for governor in 2010, borrowing heavily from their retirement accounts to finance his campaign. The governor admitted few people, included his own family, expected him to win. Dianne Bentley used to drive her husband to his speeches because he initially couldn’t afford campaign staff.

“I didn’t want him to be by himself,” she said at the time.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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