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Governor, wife finalize divorce after 50 years of marriage

It is tempting to assume that once a couple has been married long enough, they are going to stay together “til death,” the truth is that divorce can happen at any stage of life. In a highly public example, the governor of Alabama and his wife have gotten divorced after 50 years of marriage.

The Lexington Herald-Leader recently reported that a judge has signed a divorce decree for Gov. Robert Bentley and his wife Dianne. Both are 72 and reportedly separated in January, though the couple continued to travel and make public appearances together. Two days after Dianne Bentley signed divorce papers in late August, the two appeared together with college mascots at the governor’s mansion.

This suggests that the split is fairly cordial. The reasons behind the divorce are not publicly known, and court records provide little detail. In a sworn statement, Dianne Bentley said that the couple’s “lifestyles have become so different that it has caused discord and arguments.”

It could be that she tired of public life. When Robert Bentley began his campaign for governor in 2010, she said that she was shy and not excited at the idea of being the first lady of Alabama.

The divorce decree mentions how the former couple will divide their possessions. Dianne Bentley will keep the couple’s beach homes, and will have the right to live at their residence until the end of 2017, with Gov. Bentley retaining title to the home.

So-called “gray divorce” can look quite different from when a Kentucky couple divorces in their 30s or 40s. It is likely that an older couple’s kids are grown, so child support, child custody and visitation rights are unlikely to come up. On the other hand, older people are more likely to have substantial marital property, such as retirement accounts and real estate, that must be divided up.

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