Sanfords' divorce hearing to be on television

Jenny and Mark Sanford

Their divorce proceedings will be open to TV cameras and first lady Jenny Sanford will have to take the witness stand to say why her marriage to Gov. Mark Sanford is over.

Court officials say various South Carolina television outlets have shown an interest in broadcasting the final hearing of Sanford v. Sanford live on Friday from the Charleston County Judicial Center, possibly live.

She has to be there; he does not. Gov. Sanford has the option of filing an affidavit in lieu of an appearance.

Jenny Sanford on Wednesday spoke briefly about the appearance that will end their 20-year marriage. "I'm going to do whatever I have to do," she said from her home on Sullivan's Island.

A 90-minute block of time has been set aside on the docket of Family Court Judge Jocelyn Cate, beginning at 11 a.m. Electronic devices already have been approved.

Sanford's Statehouse spokesman said there are no plans to comment on whether the governor will attend, saying the matter is part of the governor's personal life.

Charleston divorce attorney Anne Frances Bleecker said the actual time in front of the judge "could be as short as 15 minutes."

Bleecker, who has no connection to the Sanford divorce filing, said Fridays are widely recognized as days to settle uncontested divorces, like the Sanford's. She described it as a type of "cattle call."

Jenny Sanford filed for divorce in December, citing her husband's adultery. Since then there has been little public paperwork filed between the two.

The lack of documents is probably an indicator that most issues surrounding the family and its fortune were settled long ago, including those addressing the couple's four children, Bleecker said.

At the time the divorce request was filed, documents did suggest that all matters can be resolved.

Under regular court procedures for divorce, Jenny Sanford will have to testify about her residency, her marriage and separation, and the grounds supporting the allegation.

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Evidence of Mark Sanford's adultery already are of little dispute, since he had made various public statements about his year-long affair with an Argentine woman. Also, in his filed response he admitted that he had had an affair, agreeing to her request to end the marriage.

In South Carolina, proven grounds of adultery can lead to divorce in as little as 90 days of filing, but hearings can be held within 60 days, allowing the final decree to become effective later.

Sanford's affair went public last summer when a newspaper reporter caught him returning from a flight from Argentina. He had told his staff that he had been walking the Appalachian Trail.

Jenny Sanford learned of the affair last January and eventually moved out of the governor's mansion. She now lives on Sullivan's Island with the couple's four sons. It is believed to be the first time that a sitting South Carolina governor has divorced while in office.

An assistant to Cate said Wednesday that as many as three television outlets, state and local, have showed an interest in being in the courtroom Friday, some looking to broadcast live.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at or 937-5551.