- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 11, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver have spent a lifetime and their entire marriage in the public eye, but the joint announcement of their separation rather than a race to the courthouse could signal a more private breakup.

The former bodybuilder turned action star and the television journalist each entered their marriage 25 years ago with separate fortunes and legacies, and the script for whether and how they end that union largely depends on decisions they’ve already made.

At stake are the pair’s children, millions of dollars, memorabilia and accolades from each of their on-camera careers, and something that gets quickly trashed in a high-profile, public divorce _ their reputations.

The couple announced they had split in a joint statement Monday evening but have not filed formal court papers.

“After a great deal of thought, reflection, discussion, and prayer, we came to this decision together,” the statement said.

On Tuesday night, in his first public comments since the announcement, Schwarzenegger thanked friends and family for an outpouring of support. “We both love each other very much,” Schwarzenegger said at a Los Angeles event marking Israeli independence. “We are taking one day at a time.”

The couple’s union had at times a storybook feel and the couple often waxed publicly about their love for one another, although there have been situations that would strain any marriage.

Since his term as California governor ended in early January, Schwarzenegger has hopscotched around the world, his wife nowhere in sight. Shriver posted three Twitter updates on April 26, their 25th wedding anniversary, without mentioning the milestone.

While Schwarzenegger, 63, appeared confident about the future since exiting politics, cutting movie deals and fashioning himself as a global spokesman for green energy, Shriver, 55, known for her confidence, seemed unsettled.

Shriver appears without a wedding ring in videos posted recently on YouTube and talks about stress in her life, the weight of expectations and the search for faith in a troubled world.

If the pair are contemplating a divorce, then chances are both have already consulted with attorneys.

Monday’s statement may be the first move in a playbook developed by high-profile couples hoping to avoid their breakups being dragged through the courts and tabloids, said Los Angeles-based family law attorney Steve Mindel.

The strategy involves releasing a statement before any court papers are filed, Mindel explained, and then having the matter heard through private mediation. The result is an agreement that doesn’t require both sides to publicly reveal their finances, although Schwarzenegger and Shriver are not strangers to public disclosure.

Economic disclosure forms filed when Schwarzenegger left as California governor in January show he has interests in at least eight entities worth $1 million or more. An exact tally of his wealth is impossible to calculate, although the forms show the “Terminator” star still retains rights to intellectual property from his days as a fitness guru and movie star.

Shriver’s holdings are more modest but are listed in the disclosure as being worth more than $1 million. She is a member of the Kennedy family and is a beneficiary of some of its assets, and also owns rights and royalties from her work as an author, the filings show.

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