"It really seems to have run its course," says a source close to the couple
PEOPLE confirms a legal filing with the King County Superior Court that states that the couple is moving forward with private arbitration to finalize the split. A source close to the couple also confirms to PEOPLE that the couple is seeking to end their relationship.
It may be the end of a relationship that began when Fualaau was just 12 years old and Letourneau was his sixth-grade teacher. Ultimately, she was sentenced to more than 7 years in prison for child rape in connection with their relationship and remains a registered sex offender in Washington state. She twice became pregnant with Fualaau’s children before he was 15.
After finishing her prison sentence, Letourneau and Fualaau married in 2005 and quietly settled down in King County, Washington. They raised their two daughters, Georgia and Audrey.
But the controversial couple made headlines again in May 2017, when Fualaau filed for legal separation.
“I’m not surprised that they got married,” Letourneau’s lawyer and friend David Gehrke told PEOPLE at the time, “and I’m not surprised, in this day and age, that they are separating.”
“Vili was the one who filed a petition for separation, which is usually a precursor for filing for divorce,” Gehrke continued. “It gives legal notice to creditors and the like that the debts won’t be joint. She could try to contest it, but that’s legally tough to do.”
But the reconciliation didn’t work. PEOPLE confirms that the couple has resumed private arbitration to end their marriage — and a source close to the couple says that it seems to be real this time.
“They really gave it the old college try,” says the source “They have a long history with two kids, but it really seems to have run its course. They worked really hard to fix things, but it still fell apart. The reconciliation just didn’t work.”
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Last year, friends and family told PEOPLE that the controversial relationship would always endure, regardless of the separation.
“This developed into something deep,” family friend Anne Bremner said. “They went through this gauntlet of celebrity and scandal. I give them a lot of credit. They will always have a bond.”
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The source tells PEOPLE that the couple appears to be headed to an eventual divorce.
“They still love each other very much,” says the source. “They’re family and always will be. It just isn’t working, and they’re going to have to call it.”