Inside Chris Rock's Marriage, Road to Divorce

The comedian's relationship has come under scrutiny in the past, with multiple infidelity claims made against him

Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage

Married more than 18 years before announcing their split this week, Chris Rock and Malaak Compton-Rock have experienced the best of times – his rise to comedy superstardom, the births of two daughters – and faced some very rough patches along the way.

The two met in 1994 when Rock crashed an awards show, and they were married two years later on Nov. 23, 1996.

“She’s changed me,” Rock told Ebony in 1997. “She’s really calmed me down and centered my life.”

The Top Five director-writer-star. 49, and his wife, 45, have two daughters together, Lola Simone, 12, and Zahra Savannah, 10.

In a June 2002 interview with O, The Oprah Magazine, Rock told Oprah Winfrey that he and Compton-Rock decided to have their first daughter after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

“I said to myself, ‘The world’s falling down, and what have I done with my life?’ We’ve been married five years, but we’ve never planned anything– it has always been about today. After September 11, I said, ‘It’s time. Let’s have a baby.’ ”

While the couple certainly had plenty of happy times, there were also difficult ones. In 2004 the comedian admitted to Howard Stern that he had had a sexual encounter outside of his marriage in 1998, though he explained that he and his wife were separated at the time.

The woman involved claimed that Rock had fathered a daughter with her, though paternity tests later revealed in court filings determined that was not the case.

Speculation about trouble in Rock’s marriage resurfaced in 2006, with TMZ reporting that he had begun divorce proceedings. But the couple stayed together and released a statement slamming reports of problems.

“We remain, as always, very happy and committed to our marriage and the beautiful family that we have built,” they told PEOPLE at the time.

Rock fought paternity claims again in 2007, when a Georgia woman claimed that Rock fathered her then 13-year-old son. A DNA test proved Rock was not the boy’s father.

As for the final breaking point, “This was a long time coming,” a source close to the couple told PEOPLE of their divorce. “Chris has known it wasn’t salvageable for a while. He was the one to file because he knew it was time to just move forward already.”

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