A certain TMP has filed for divorce from a certain SLP in the Anchorage Superior Court.
The initialized filing was unusual enough that some court watchers took note. Not only are the names of those involved disguised, the names of the attorneys representing the plaintiff and defendant are absent from public viewable, online, court filings.
The case was filed Friday. Fridays are considered the day when news is most likely to slide under the radar of Alaska’s mainstream media.
Further, the use of initials made it impossible to even find case number 3AN-19-09716CI by name search on the court’s website. The court’s search engine requires the use of both first and last names.
Several sources said they are sure the filing is the oft-rumored divorce of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the north’s biggest ever polebrity, and her Irondog snowmachine race-winning husband Todd.
By Sunday, the state’s word-of-mouth tundra telegraph was atwitter with speculation that the divorce some have long expected has officially begun. But no one claimed to have been specifically told that by either Sarah or Todd.
At this time, the unusual filing cannot be fully confirmed as the Palins. A former state lawmaker from the Valley well acquainted with them suspects it was their divorce filing, and two friends of Todd said that though they couldn’t officially confirm the filing, a divorce wouldn’t surprise them in the least.
A motorsport enthusiast, Todd was scheduled to appear with Sarah at a Sturgis, South Dakota motorcycle rally in early August, but was noticeably absent. Sarah said he was out flying around Alaska.
The press contact at SarahPalin.com was not responding to messages.
The online court file in TMP v. SLP describes a “complaint for divorce (with children).” The Palins, who married in 1988, are the parents of five. Four of them are now adults and would be of no interest to the court system during a divorce filing.
But their youngest child, Trig, is but 11-years-old and was born with Down syndrome.
The court file includes a “child custody jurisdiction affidavit,” and a note that the case is being filed per “confidential document per Civil Rule 90.1(f)(1).” The rule allows parties to a divorce to keep confidential certain financial records when child support is a major issue.
“Each parent in a court proceeding at which child support is involved must file a statement under oath which states the parent’s adjusted annual income and the components of this income…,” the rule says. “This statement must be filed with a party’s initial pleading (such as the dissolution petition, divorce complaint or answer, etc.),
motion to modify, and any response to a motion to modify. The statement must be accompanied by documentation.”
Under the rule, parents are required to stipulate “whether the parent has access to
health insurance for the children and, if so, the additional cost to the parent of the children’s health insurance.”
Many special-needs children face lifelong health issues and require support long after they become adults. The courts tend to be protective of those individuals.
Court rules stipulate that in child-custody cases, “a statement under subsection (e)(1) of this rule must be accompanied by a confidential information sheet as described in Civil Rule 90.1(f).”
The court file indicates the filing of such an “information sheet.”
It is possible the sources saying the mysterious TMP and SLP are the Palins could be wrong, but the evidence appears to lean toward their being right.
Rumors of divorce have swirled around the couple for a long time. Citing stories “published on several Alaskan web sites,” PEOPLE magazine a decade ago reported alleged “extramarital affairs on both sides and an impending divorce, and claim(s) the 45-year-old politician is considering moving her family to Montana afterward.”
An unnamed “Palin rep” was reported to have emailed the magazine, “No truth to any of the rumors. No divorce. No affairs. No land in Montana. Nothing! All lies and fabrications!”
A year later, as the Palins rolled out the short-lived TV series “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” Sarah told PEOPLE they had mixed feelings about divorce rumors. Sarah was left “steaming,” the story said, but she told the magazine Todd got a laugh out of the latest rumor in a tabloid magazine:
“I call Todd on the cell phone, and I say, ‘Todd, you won’t believe this cover!’ And he says, ‘(A) $20 million (settlement)? Write me a check.’ He’s good about laughing some of that stuff off.”
Once the center of a nation’s focus for her attacks on the nation’s “lamestream media” and her efforts to undermine the presidency of Democrat Barack Obama, the failed Republican candidate for vice-president has been noticeably absent from the public stage in the past year. Her Facebook page was long ago converted into a news aggregator that posts links to right-leaning news stories.
Sarah’s website largely echoes the Facebook page these days but does run a sidebar of her Twitter posts. The last was Aug. 6 when she posted that she was pleased the courts had reinstated a defamation suit she filed against the New York Times in 2017 falsely claimed her “political incitement” contributed to an Arizona mass shooting that left nine dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords seriously injured in 2011.
At the time of the shooting, it was suggested a Sarah Palin political ad with crosshairs drawn over Democratic congressional districts, one of which was Giffords’, might have inspired the shooter. The investigation of the shooting showed there was no connection; the shooter had been targeting Giffords long before the ad.
The latter fact was well known years before the 2017 Times story appeared. A federal district court judge ruled the Times made a huge error, but in the exercise of First Amendment free speech, “mistakes will be made, some of which will be hurtful to others.”
He tossed the case in the belief public figures must be prepared to accept those mistakes. An appeals court disagreed. It was that case to which Sarah’s Twitter feed linked.
That came almost a month after Sarah’s Tweets slowed dramatically and changed tone after years of running a steady stream of links to stories supporting President Donald Trump, attacking Democrats, and promoting national defense.
All of that ended July 9, and Sarah Palin @ Sarah Palin USA, which had Tweeted at least every couple days and often more than once per day, went quiet for 11 days before shifting to a more personal tone with less frequent posts.
On July 20, Sarah (or whoever she might have been hired to work for her) posted her next Tweet, a tribute to the passing of millionaire heiress Marylou Whitney, 93, who in 1997 married Alaskan John Hendrickson, a friend and contemporary of Sarah’s.
Sarah did not post again until Aug. 6 when she popped up at the Buffalo Chip Sturgis Rally in South Dakota. A gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts, the Buffalo Chip bills itself as “the best party anywhere.”
Sarah’s two Twitter posts from Sturgis showed her in jeans and t-shirt arm in arm with two legends of motorsport, stock car racer Rusty Wallace and dragster driver Don Prudhomme. Nothing has appeared on her Twitter feed since.
A month-long gap in Sarah’s Twitter posts is unprecedented, and Sturgis organizers had expected Todd at the rally along with his wife.
“It’s all a matter of timing,” she said, “and thankful (sic) that our youngest daughter, our fourth child, she just graduated high school. That kind of frees us up to be out and about.”
Her Sturgis appearance attracted little media attention outside of South Dakota. The Rapid City Journal, the state’s largest paper, covered Sarah in Sturgis but focused mainly on photographs of her driving a Polaris Slingshot SLR three-wheel motorcycle with car-like, side-by-side seating; attending what was described as a press conference; and greeting fans, including one who handed her a “Make America Great Again” hat.
Crandon is the home of the World Championship Off-Road Races. Palin appears to have attracted no media attention there, but did get a mention on the Instagram page of off-road racer Dan McMillin.
“If someone said they were at a Kid Rock concert in a town of less then 2,000 people in Northern Wisconsin for a World Championship off-road race and Sarah Palin and Rusty Wallace were amongst the attendees, you’d think they made it up,” he wrote. “But that actually happened, in no other than Crandon, Wisconsin! Wow. What a weekend and what a hangover!”
Sarah’s own Instagram page is now heavily focused on Trig and family, including a short video of her picking him up at school three weeks ago along with this cryptic post:
“My 25th consecutive 1st Day of School‼️ BIGGEST darn deal ALL week = backpack: Harley Davidson? or camo? Trig needed to see ‘em at EVERY angle, every day to decide🤔 What’s YOUR choice? Swipe to see his. Swipe again to see how that 1st day went 😬🤷🏻♀️🤷🏻♂️”
Todd is noticeably absent from the dozens of photos posted on the page in the last six months. He appears in only one. It is a reference to kids making faces in family photos, and in those family photos Todd is partially cropped out.
Correction: An early version of this story misidentified Instagram.