Judge orders mediation in US Rep. Sanford divorce


Associated Press

A judge has ordered U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford and his ex-wife, Jenny, to work with a mediator to resolve a dispute over money for their two youngest sons.

The two appeared in Family Court on Monday after Jenny Sanford had earlier accused the congressman of violating their 2010 divorce decree.

The issue is trust funds for the two youngest of their four boys. In their 2010 divorce decree, the two said they would "work together to attempt to equalize the trust accounts" for their youngest who were 10 and 12 at the time.

The provision said the couple would try to make the amount comparable to what was put in their older two boys' accounts, which were bigger because they were closer to college age.

The two divorced after Sanford, then governor, disappeared for five days five years ago. He returned from Argentina to acknowledge an affair with a woman to whom he is now engaged. Sanford was elected to Congress last year to the seat he held for three terms in the 1990s.

Jenny Sanford testified she and two of her attorneys have emailed Sanford a number of times in recent months about the trust account issue. "To date he has refused to respond to any email from me or anyone else," she said, adding her ex-husband has not put money into the accounts.

But Mark Sanford testified he has also sent his ex-wife dozens of emails, asking to discuss not only the trust funds, but other issues including visitation. "There has been a pattern of taking me to court about issues that could be resolved by reasonable people," he told the judge.

The Republican congressman said he has a stipulation in his will that the younger children will get money to equalize the accounts and that his two state retirement accounts will also go to them. He said he had not told his former wife about the provisions.

He added the boys also receive money from operations at his family farm in Beaufort County.

Judge Paul W. Garfinkel gave the couple a month to begin mediation.

Jenny Sanford had no comment afterward while Mark Sanford said "I'm sure hopeful" mediation will work.

Last year, the couple settled another complaint that Sanford violated the divorce agreement by being in his ex-wife's home without permission. Sanford said he was there watching the 2013 Super Bowl with his son.

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