Buske divorce moves forward

By Amelia Flood | Jun 22, 2009

A Madison County court ruled the divorce of an Edwardsville couple that had been fought by a Wisconsin-based household goods maker will go ahead, pending the resolution of custody matters.

Madison County Associate Judge Duane Bailey ruled that Sara Buske could divorce her husband, Thomas Buske, on the grounds of mental cruelty. He ruled there were not grounds for irreconcilable differences.

S.C. Johnson and Sons Inc., the maker of Ziploc bags and Windex, renewed its objection to its exclusion from the grounds hearing as it began Friday morning. The company had previously asked the court to dismiss the divorce, claiming it was a sham by the couple to hide millions that S.C. Johnson is owed under a Wisconsin judgment.

Bailey ruled that the company had no standing to argue collusion June 12. According to Bailey's ruling, only the parties directly involved in the divorce, not an intervening party, can argue collusion because it goes to the grounds of the divorce.

Sara Buske filed for divorce eight days after a Wisconsin court ruled against her husband of 15 years and awarded S.C. Johnson $203.8 million. Thomas Buske is also facing multiple criminal charges in a Wisconsin federal court over allegations of fraudulent invoices. He has pled not guilty to all charges.

In the Friday hearing, Sara Buske testified as the only witness. She claimed to want the divorce due in part to her husband's drinking, to allegations made in Wisconsin criminal court that Buske used and supplied prostitutes as well as the stress of the criminal and federal cases.

"I just can't do this day in and day out anymore," Sara Buske said of the stress of the cases.

She has claimed that she suffers from increased anxiety, sleeplessness, and headaches due to marital stresses.

Sara Buske denied consulting attorneys about the protection of trust assets prior to her divorce filing. Sara Buske also explained two trips she took with her husband immediately before and just after her divorce as "more about getting along than reconciling."

The couple attended the U.S. Open in California in 2008 together and a concert at the Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas. They stayed in separate rooms at the Bellagio, Sara Buske testified, and she did not respond to her husband's mentions of reconciliation.

Thomas Buske did not take the stand, having invoked his Fifth Amendment rights during prior court proceedings.

Bailey has asked that lawyers for both Buskes update him on their progress toward a custody agreement within two weeks.

Sara Buske is represented by Howard Feldman. Thomas Buske is represented by Vicki Cochran. S.C. Johnson is represented by Andrew Velloff and Thomas Keefe Jr.

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