Candidate asks that divorce petition be dismissed

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Associated Press

Posted on April 12, 2011 at 8:05 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 12 at 8:05 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Republican lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Richie Farmer asked Tuesday that his wife's divorce petition be dismissed, but, if not, that he receive joint custody of their three children.

Rebecca Farmer filed for divorce last week in the midst of a GOP gubernatorial primary battle that involves her husband, who is state Senate President David Williams' running mate. She asked for primary custody of their sons and that Richie Farmer be required to pay child support.

Richie Farmer filed a response on Tuesday asking that, if the divorce petition isn't dismissed, that joint custody be awarded with reasonable time-sharing for both.

Franklin County Family Court Judge Squire Williams III said Tuesday he will soon schedule an initial hearing in the case.

Political opponents have been careful not to make the divorce case an issue in the governor's race, adhering to Richie Farmer's request to respect his family's privacy. It remains unclear what the political ramifications will be.

Western Kentucky University political scientist Scott Lasley said both campaigns and divorces can be grueling and time-consuming.

"If you kind of step away from the personal side, it probably limits his ability to be an asset," Lasley said. "When you're campaigning, time is a pretty valuable resource."

Williams recruited Richie Farmer, a guard on the legendary 1992 University of Kentucky team dubbed "The Unforgettables," to be his running mate. Richie Farmer had considered running for governor himself, but decided instead to team up with Williams.

Richie Farmer, a Clay County native, is one of the most recognized names in Kentucky. He is serving his second term as agriculture commissioner, an elected position in Kentucky.

Neither he nor his wife has appeared publicly since Kentucky political blogger Joe Sonka first reported the divorce last weekend. Richie Farmer asked for privacy in a statement released by the campaign.

"My wife and I are working through some issues in our marriage," Farmer said. "For her sake and for the sake of our children we will have no further comment on this matter."

Rebecca Farmer's lawyer, Brian Logan of Frankfort, declined to comment Tuesday about how she is handling the matter.

The court file includes an affidavit from Rebecca Farmer, saying that she has been a stay-at-home mother of their three sons for 12 years of their 13-year marriage. She has been working as a teacher's aide in the Franklin County school system for less than a year, earning about $1,100 a month.

Rebecca Farmer asked that her husband, who receives about $110,000 as agricultural commissioner, "pay her attorney's fees and all court costs in this proceeding." She said he "is in complete control of the parties' finances" and that she has "no access to their funds."

In what has become standard language in divorce cases, Rebecca Farmer said in the affidavit that the marriage "is irretrievably broken and there exists no reasonable prospect of reconciliation." Richie Farmer, in his response, disagreed with his wife on that.

Rebecca Farmer also requested that Richie Farmer be required to pay the family's bills, including mortgage, car payments, utilities, property taxes and insurance premiums, until the case is resolved.

In his response, filed by Frankfort attorney Richard Guarnieri, Richie Farmer asks for an order assigning him all his non-marital property and an equitable division of marital property and marital debt.

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