Celebrity divorces have become a specialty of retired judges because they can be conducted in private, although the final resolution must, like any other divorce, be made public.
In the past, celebrities and the wealthy have gone to great lengths to keep the details of their divorces private, with mixed results.
Billionaire supermarket mogul Ron Burkle tried unsuccessfully to keep secret 1,200 pages of his divorce transcript, including allegations that he told his daughter he had videotapes of her mother having sex with a boyfriend.
In allowing the documents to be unsealed, the California Supreme Court struck down a law that would have kept them from the public. Ironically, the law was signed by Schwarzenegger.
If there is one area where the former governor may prevail, attorneys and other experts say, it would be in getting out of paying a substantial sum to either the 13-year-old boy or his mother.
The woman, who has been identified as Mildred Patricia Baena of Bakersfield by The New York Times and other media, has vanished since her name became public Wednesday. The Associated Press has not independently verified that she is the mother of Schwarzenegger’s child.
Schwarzenegger’s office has declined to discuss whether Baena is the boy’s mother.
On her son’s birth certificate, Baena listed her ex-husband as the boy’s father and there’s no evidence that has ever been contested.
The time limit for her ex-husband to challenge paternity has long since passed, so it could never be legally established that Schwarzenegger is the father, said Michael McCormick, executive director of the American Coalition for Fathers & Children.
McCormick previously assisted a man who tried unsuccessfully to get the courts to halt his child support payments to his ex-wife after DNA tests showed the woman’s daughter actually was fathered by comedian Sam Kinison.
“From a legal perspective, Arnold Schwarzenegger had nothing to do with the creation of this child,” McCormick said.