Sid Salter has published Chip Pickering's statement in response to the alientation of affection lawsuit filed by wife, Leisha Pickering, against Elizabeth Creekmore Byrd:
"My marriage to Leisha is irreparably damaged. For the sake of our boys, I have done my best to resolve our differences amicably, fairly and privately, but without success, as Leisha refused to cooperate in any form or manner and is now on her third attorney. In June, I filed for divorce on a fault basis; previously, I had filed on the basis of irreconcilable differences because I thought that was in the best interest of our boys. Leisha’s Complaint is a reaction to my filing on fault grounds. I still believe it is in the best interest of our five (5) boys if our differences are resolved privately and before the appropriate court and not in the media. For that reason, I will not comment further."
The hook in that statement is meant to be "In June, I filed for divorce on a fault basis," leaving the impression that Mrs. Pickering has her own skeltons in the closet. It opens, however, the following interesting questions:
1. If Mr. Pickering "previously . . . filed [for divorce] on the basis of irreconcilable differences," why did he change the filing to one alleging fault?
It used to be the case that all the details of the divorce judgment had to be settled before an irreconcilable differences divorce could be granted. In those days, if the parties could not reach agreement, one or both would be required to switch to a fault ground in order to get the court to decide the unresolved issues. Mr. Pickering's statement reflects this idea: "I have done my best to resolve our differences amiably . . . but without success."
But Miss. Code Ann. Section 93-5-2(3) has been amended to provide that "If the parties are unable to agree upon adequate and sufficient provisions for the custody and maintenance of any children of that marriage or any property rights between them, they may consent to a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences and permit the court to decide the issues upon which they cannot agree."
So these days, the only reason for switching from a "no-fault" to a "fault" divorce is to get leverage on the other spouse.
2. I find it interesting that Mr. Pickering, rather than Ms. Byrd, has responded to the filing of a complaint against Ms. Byrd.
3. I also find it interesting that unlike Gov. Sanford, Mr. Pickering is making no statement of remorse or even equivocation regarding the scandal.
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