Maria Shriver files for divorce from Arnold Schwarzenegger

Date: Jul 04, 2011

Maria Shriver has filed for divorce from former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, citing irreconcilable differences.

The split comes several months after the couple separated. Schwarzenegger left office in January and in May, it was revealed he had fathered a child with a member of his household staff nearly a decade ago.

Reports indicate that the divorce papers, filed in a Los Angeles court, make no mention of a prenuptial agreement, which would set out the terms for their wealth to be divided. As a result, analysts suggest it is likely the pair will evenly split their assets, which include Schwarzenegger's earnings as a Hollywood actor since their 1986 marriage.

It is thought that Ms Shriver is worth around US$100 million, while the Terminator actor is thought to be worth an estimated $300 million.

Ms Shriver, a former television journalist, put her career on hold in 2003 to support her husband's political campaign.

The former couple have four children - two of whom are under the age of 18. It is understood that Ms Shriver is seeking joint custody of the couple's teenage sons, who are 17 and 13.

In Australia, divorce proceedings involve an application for a divorce order under the Federal Magistrates Court. Parties need to have been separated for at least a 12-month period before they can apply for divorce.

Once a divorce order is granted, it is finalised - and a divorce certificate is issued - after one month and one day.

A trusted family lawyer can help you through divorce proceedings, including the various parenting and financial issues, which are addressed separately - and can be agreed before the divorce is finalised.

When it comes to financial matters, your lawyer will be able to give you all the information you need on your likely legal entitlements - including how these are agreed under the law - as well as the processes involved in making a financial settlement.

Future parenting arrangements are focused on the welfare of any children the couple may have. While many separating parents work out care arrangements for their children between themselves, those who cannot agree must attempt to resolve their differences through mediation.

As a last resort, the mediator can issue a certificate that entitles both parents to request their arrangements be determined by a court of law.

If you are separating or divorcing and you are concerned about dividing assets or parenting issues, it is wise to contact a family lawyer, who can provide help and legal support through every step of the process.