The Truth About Garth Brooks' Divorce From His First Wife Sandy Mahl

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Before finding love with fellow country singer Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks was married for 15 years to another woman. Garth Brooks and his first wife, Sandy Mahl, met and married in the '80s, but by the new millennium, they called it quits. 


Mahl and Brooks met in the early 1980s, but sources disagree over how the two actually found one another. According to Showbiz Cheat Sheet, the two first met when Brooks was a bouncer at the Tumbleweed Ballroom in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Mahl was reportedly about to be a part of a fight in the ladies' restroom. She met Brooks after she got her hand stuck in a wall. Country Fancast tells a story of Brooks and Mahl meeting as dancer partners on the Tumbleweed Ballroom's dance floor.

Whether they met in the bathroom or on the dance floor, both Brooks and Mahl were students at Oklahoma State University-Stillwater. During the early days of their romance, they found joy in the simple things in life, and their dates consisted of walking around the campus. During their time together, the couple bonded over music and married in 1986, following a whirlwind love affair (per Wide Open Country). According to Celebrity Net Worth, they moved to Nashville a year later, as Brooks was just starting his music career.


Fame was on the horizon for Brooks, and celebrity status can be hard on a marriage. How did Mahl and Brooks weather the storm?

What went wrong for Brooks and Mahl?

Once he started releasing albums, success came quickly for Garth Brooks. His first album, "Hungry Years," reached number two on the country charts in 1989. "No Fences," released in 1990, beat that record with 23 weeks as a number one album. Along with Brook's career, his family was also growing. During the 1990s, he and Sandy Mahl had three daughters together: Taylor, August, and Allie (per Wide Open Country).


Speaking in the documentary "Garth Brooks: The Road I'm On," Mahl shared that the time she and Brooks spent apart is what harmed their marriage. "People constantly wanting your attention and yanking and pulling on him," she said (per Good Housekeeping). "He'd be gone eight to 10 weeks at a time. He'd come home, [and] there would be number-one parties, or shows, or CMAs, or ACMs, American Music Awards, so it was constantly going. But we both grew apart really, really quickly."

Another difficulty in their marriage happened even earlier. In an interview on "The Ellen Show," Brooks recounted his first meeting with his current wife, Trisha Yearwood. "It's strange 'cause I felt that feeling like when you just meet your wife but I'd been married for 13 months." Brooks knew he had a connection with Yearwood, but felt at the time that he needed to stay committed to his union with Mahl.  


After the divorce, Brooks and Mahl focused on family

By 2000, Garth Brooks and Sandy Mahl were seeking a divorce. In an interview with the Tennessean, Brooks shared that he was going through a lot of life changes at the time. His mother had died, and he announced his retirement from the music business, keeping a promise he made to his young daughters.


The couple's divorce was finalized on December 17, 2001. Mahl received a $125 million settlement, making it one of the most expensive divorces of all time, according to Celebrity Net Worth

After the divorce, Brooks told the Tennessean that he shifted his focus to his family. Both Mahl and Brooks maintained an active co-parenting schedule for 14 years while their daughters grew up. Their children saw both parents in the morning and evening during this time. "If you did what was right for the kids, you were going to do what was right for you," Brooks said.  

Brooks married Trisha Yearwood in 2005 and the couple is still going strong. Brooks told Us Weekly that Yearwood was an active participant in raising his daughters. Between Brooks, Mahl, and Yearwood, all three even attended the girls' numerous sporting events.


Brooks and Mahl continue to have a friendly relationship

Despite growing apart during their marriage, Garth Brooks and Sandy Mahl remain on good terms. After their daughters became adults, Brooks returned to touring in 2014 (per Celebrity Net Worth). According to the outlet, Brooks can earn up to $90 million per year when he tours.  


At home in Oklahoma, Mahl continues to pursue her love of wildlife as one of the founders of the Wild Heart Ranch. She was also on hand to support her youngest daughter, Allie Colleen, when she performed at Nashville's historic Grand Ole Opry (per Guitar Girl). 

Following the documentary's release, Brooks told Us Weekly that he learned a lot from her comments in the film and still holds Mahl in high regard. "She was phenomenal," the country singer-songwriter said. "[I was] gone so much on the road [during our marriage], there were things I guess she was [trying to tell] me that I didn't hear until this biography. It's rare you get to hear the other side. I just saw her and I think I hugged her harder than I ever have now that I know things that either I didn't hear or that she didn't say until now."


It is refreshing to hear past partners speak so kindly about one another, especially when fame and fortune comes into play.