Inside Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Scandalous Divorce From Maria Shriver

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Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver were one of the unlikeliest celebrity couples that ever have been. Shriver was political royalty (niece to President John F. Kennedy) turned news anchor and Schwarzenegger was a bodybuilder-turned Hollywood actor. But the two fell in love, courting for a decade prior to marrying in 1986. They stayed together for fifteen years until things fell apart. Here’s a look inside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver’s scandalous divorce.

How Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver Met

Maria Shriver was born on November 6, 1955, in Chicago, Illinois. Her parents were Sargent Shriver and Eugene Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s sister. She graduated from Georgetown University and went on to begin a career in journalism in 1977. Shriver went on to be an anchor for CBS and eventually NBC. It was during her time at CBS that she and Schwarzenegger began dating.

According to History, the couple was introduced by TV news anchor Tom Brokaw while at a party in Forest Hills, New York. It was 1977 —the same year that Shriver began her career — and the evening before the annual Robert F. Kennedy Pro-Celebrity Tennis tournament.

The two dated while living on opposite coasts. Schwarzenegger was already a world-famous bodybuilder (aka the Styrian Oak) but then decided to get into real estate. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Business Administration in 1979 while Shriver was building her career as a journalist. He got his first big Hollywood role as Conan in Conan the Barbarian in 1982 and then starred in The Terminator in 1984.

Arnold and Maria Tie the Knot

On April 25, 1986, Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger got married at the Saint Francis Xavier Church in Hyannis, Massachusetts. The Washington Post reported that Shriver wore Dior and her cousin Caroline Kennedy served as the Maid of Honor. An estimated 450 guests attended, about 100 of which were the Kennedy family alone. Franco Columbu, former Mr. World and Mr. Olympia, served as the Best Man.

The celebrity couple had four children together, starting with a daughter. Katherine Eunice was born on December 13, 1989. Christina Maria Aurelia was born on July 23, 1991. Patrick Arnold was born on September 18, 1993. And Christopher Sargent was born on September 27, 1997.

And then, one week after Christopher was born, Schwarzenegger became the father of a fifth child — Joseph Baena. His mother was Mildred Baena, Arnold and Maria’s longtime housekeeper.

That was the beginning of the end for Arnie and Shriver, although she had no clue. In Schwarzenegger’s memoir, Total Recall, he revealed that he finally confessed about his affair while in a marriage counseling session with Shriver shortly after he left office as Governor in 2011.

Sadly for Shriver, the news was a massive blow. How could it not be? She had served as First Lady to her husband while he served as the Republican Governor of California from 2003 to 2011. Further, she had put her career aside for the entire duration of Schwarzenegger’s role as Governor due to potential conflicts of interest. Not to mention, she was of the Democratic Party and served as a Republican First Lady.

And Then There Were The Accusations of Sexual Misconduct

Prior to Schwarzenegger’s confession of infidelity and fathering a secret love child, and while he was running for office, accusations were flying. This of course happens when people want to get into politics. Six women had come forward to accuse Arnold of sexual misconduct while on movie sets and in hotels. Accusations ranged from putting his hand up skirts to grabbing breasts. All of the incidents allegedly occurred between 1970 and 2000. This means that several of these incidents occurred over the course of his marriage to Shriver.

Schwarzenegger apologized for his bad behavior at the time. “Yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets, and I have done things that were not right, which I thought then was playful,” he said. “But I now recognize that I have offended people. And to those people that I have offended, I want to say to them, I am deeply sorry about that, and I apologize.”

It was 2003 and Shriver stayed by Schwarzenegger, which must have been at least a little uncomfortable. Maybe it was because Shriver grew up with an acute knowledge of what it was like to be in politics or maybe she just loved him. Either way, she had already put up with a lot by the time she realized that her four children had a half-brother.

Shriver and Schwarzenegger’s Divorce Takes 10 Years

In May of 2011, after being married for 25 years and together for about 35 years, Arnold and Maria gave a joint statement on their separation. Per the Los Angeles Times, they said:

“This has been a time of great personal and professional transition for each of us… After a great deal of thought, reflection, discussion, and prayer, we came to this decision together. At this time, we are living apart while we work on the future of our relationship.

“We are continuing to parent our four children together. They are the light and the center of both of our lives. We consider this a private matter and neither we nor any of our friends or family will have further comment. We ask for compassion and respect from the media and the public.”

Joint Statement from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver

Shriver officially filed for divorce on July 1, 2011. But it would be a whole decade before their divorce was finalized. According to TMZ, the couple shared $400 million in assets and didn’t have a prenup. Their divorce was finalized on December 28, 2011.

Per Us Weekly, on June 2, 2022, a court filing stated that Shriver was entitled to half of Schwarzenegger’s earnings from the time they got married through July 1, 2011.

When asked about his affair, Schwarzenegger once told Fox News’ Harvey Levin, “I know it was a major, major screw-up.”

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