California Spousal Support Rights Acknowledged by Schwarzenegger

Numerous media reports over the last ten days indicate that former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has made a significant revision to his court filings related to his Southern California divorce from Maria Shriver. The Orange County Register notes the former governor initially “stated that he didn’t want to pay spousal support to Maria Shriver… or her lawyer’s fees.” Now, however, he has reversed himself on the issue.

Schwarzenegger’s justification for the original Los Angeles family court spousal support claim was the fact that while his income as an actor is the source of much of the couple’s fortune, California’s former first lady is independently wealthy in her own right.

The Register, citing the celebrity gossip website TMZ, reports that the once and future action movie star says the move to deny spousal support for Shriver was inadvertent – a result of Schwarzenegger signing documents without discussing their content with his Southern California divorce attorney first. Once he discovered the content of the documents he moved to present the court with a revised filing in which he does not contest Los Angeles spousal support. Shriver filed for divorce from the former governor earlier this year after it was revealed that Schwarzenegger had fathered a child more than a decade ago with a woman who was at the time one of the couple’s household employees.

Because Schwarzenegger and Shriver have no California prenuptial agreement and have been married for a quarter-century virtually all of Schwarzenegger’s earnings from his long film career will be subject to California community property rules in the eventual divorce settlement.

From an Orange County divorce attorney’s perspective the move by Schwarzenegger can be seen as a potentially shrewd tactical one. Assuming the media accounts are true, his quick action may have been designed to diffuse ill-feelings as the couple enter into the real financial negotiations concerning their break-up. Orange County divorce proceedings are rarely without stress, but it is generally in both parties’ interest to minimize conflict to whatever extent that proves possible.

Orange County Register: Schwarzenegger revises divorce proposal

AP via The Washington Post: Schwarzenegger amends divorce filing and withdraws request to deny Shriver spousal support