There are numerous benefits of having a divorce sealed. However, in the case of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and first lady Dianne Bentley the media is relentless in their pursuit to have the divorce case unsealed by a judge, according to whnt.com.
Through their divorce lawyers, the governor and his wife had their case sealed last month. Several Alabama television stations and newspapers claimed that the hearing was held in haste without notifying the public.
The group from the media filed a motion in the Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court citing that the Gov. Bentley’s divorce case was newsworthy and worth reporting. They claim that keeping the case sealed was an unnecessary cause for speculation and rumors. Divorce attorneys for the former couple declined to comment. The couple was married for five decades while Dianne Bentley is said to have filed for divorce last month stating an irretrievable breakdown as the reason for the break up.
Alabama paparazzi are frenetic about this; they must be bored
According to divorce lawyers and insiders, under Alabama state law, records of divorces are open to public inspection. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hamner granted a motion by the Bentleys to seal the case. In the motion, the couple claimed that since the governor held a prominent office in the state, it would be best to have the record sealed. They said that their divorce proceedings were a private family matter.
However, the news organizations argued that the case involved actions by the governor and the First Lady while they were in public office.
Timesdaily.com lists ten media outlets including it to file a motion at the Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court. Among the others are the Anniston Star, the Tuscaloosa News, and WBRC-TV Fox 6, of Birmingham, to name a few. All this means nothing to the stellar and prudent divorce lawyers on USAttorneys.com since the divorce is already over with. Why not let bygones be bygones? Perhaps the former governor and his ex-wife should just move out of the state?
Can divorce records of regular couples be sealed?
Divorce lawyers say that a judge has the sole discretion to decide if a divorce case be sealed or unsealed. This is especially true in high profile cases even though the law dictates that records of a divorce be open to public inspection. There are several grounds on which divorce records can be sealed.
This includes, and is not limited to, if it is a matter of national security; could promote a scandal; pose a serious threat of harassment, and if it pertains to a wholly private family matter, to name a few. The latter is under which the judge granted the Bentleys their motion to have their divorce case sealed.
Fighting before and after the divorce
Some high profile couples to have their divorce records sealed include Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton. The country stars had their case appeal granted by an Oklahoma judge. Jon and Kate Gosselin, the reality television stars also had their documents sealed in 2009. In political circles, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons had his appeal to seal his divorce documents rejected by a Nevada judge in 2009.
Incidentally, his wife, Dawn, had strongly opposed the request. In 2014, Maryland State Sen. Richard Colburn was only successful in having the records sealed for a week. The judge reversed the decision after his wife, Alma, fought the motion. She claimed that her husband was having an affair with a close aide.