When a couple has been married for a significant period of time, they grow accustomed to a new lifestyle together. For many couples in Washington, that means living more extravagantly and enjoying things that would not be available without two incomes. However, if the marriage ends in divorce, one spouse may be expected to provide financial support to the other spouse to help him or her maintain that lifestyle.
If you are Arnold Schwarzenegger, you may resist paying spousal maintenance to a soon-to-be ex-spouse who came into plenty of money in her own right.
After Schwarzenegger admitted to fathering a child with the family's housekeeper, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver filed for divorce. However, when they filed the divorce papers, Schwarzenegger said he was not interested in paying spousal support to his wife of 25 years. He has since changed his mind and said he is willing to pay spousal support.
An article in TIME magazine referred to the change of heart as a basic public relations stunt, staying that when "you've publicly shamed your accomplished wife by fathering a child with the family housekeeper, don't stick your wife with the bill for her own support and divorce attorney."
One divorce attorney stated that Schwarzenegger's initial refusal to pay spousal support was a bad publicity move, but also understandable. In high-asset divorces, both spouses often end up with multi-million dollar settlements. The money they receive should be more than enough to support anyone's lifestyle. Regardless, paying spousal support - especially in Schwarzenegger's situation - is at least a "conciliatory gesture."
Source: TIME, "Spousal Support for Maria Shriver? Schwarzenegger Says No, Then Yes," Bonnie Rochman, July 27, 2011