LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Movie megastar turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver have announced their separation, after 25 years of a high-profile personal as well as political marriage.
The Republican former California governor and Shriver -- a member of the Democrat-leading Kennedy dynasty -- have been living apart for a number of weeks, while they "work on the future" of their relationship, they said.
"This has been a time of great personal and professional transition for each of us," said a statement to the Los Angeles Times by the "Governator," who left office in January after seven years as California governor, and his wife.
"After a great deal of thought, reflection, discussion and prayer, we came to this decision together. At this time, we are living apart while we work on the future of our relationship."
The LA Times added that 55-year-old Shriver, a daughter of the storied Kennedy clan, had moved out of the couple's mansion in the upscale Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Austrian-born former bodybuilder Schwarzenegger, a liberal Republican, has started to return to show business since he stepped down as governor, with plans for a "Governator" comic book and animated TV show.
While Arnie seems set to return to the big screen, he has vowed to pursue his political passions -- notably on the environment -- fueling rumors than he could even run to be the next president of the European Union.
The couple, who married in 1977, have four children, aged between 14 and 21.
Their marriage has come under the spotlight over the years, notably amid reports of his history of groping women during campaigning for the 2003 recall election which Schwarzenegger won, the LA Times reported.
Shriver, a former TV journalist, defended him at the time, and has stood by his side during his seven years at the helm of the Golden State, a term that ended when Jerry Brown succeeded him four months ago.
The political differences were evident during the 2008 presidential race, when Shriver backed Barack Obama and Schwarzenegger supported Republican John McCain.
Since leaving office the two have seemed to live separate lives, the newspaper said, adding that Shriver struggled with the death of her father, Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver, in January.
In a March video to supporters on YouTube, she voiced concern about the uncertainty in their lives, saying: "It is so stressful to not know what you're doing next."
"I'd like to hear from other people in transition .. How did you get through it? What were three things that enabled you to get through your transition?"
Announcing the split, Schwarzenegger, 63, and Shriver said they were "continuing to parent our four children together. They are the light and the center of both of our lives.
"We consider this a private matter and neither we nor any of our friends or family will have further comment. We ask for compassion and respect from the media and the public."
A representative for Schwarzenegger did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation or further details.