"I don't think they have it in them anymore," says a source close to Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau

By Steve Helling
March 29, 2019 02:19 PM

Mary Kay Letourneau tried everything to save her floundering marriage husband to Vili Fualaau, a source close to the former teacher tells PEOPLE.

After Fualaau filed for legal separation in May 2017, the couple had multiple discussions about where things were going, the source says. “She really tried everything she could think of, but she just wasn’t able to work it out. She loves him, she knows he loves her, but it really seems like it has run its course.”

PEOPLE confirms a legal filing with the King County Superior Court stating the couple is moving forward with private arbitration to finalize their split.

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“After all that, the cards were stacked against them, but they managed to have a long-term marriage,” says the Letourneau source. “She still looks at their relationship as this amazing love story.”

Many would disagree. The relationship began when Fualaau was just 12 years old and Letourneau was his sixth-grade teacher. Ultimately, she was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for child rape in connection with their relationship. She twice became pregnant with Fualaau’s children before he was 15, despite court orders that would keep them apart. 

By the time she was released from prison, Fualaau was an adult — and he petitioned the court to allow them to see each other. The restraining order was dropped, but Letourneau remains a registered sex offender in Washington state.

The couple married in 2005, despite the criminal history of their relationship.

“I’m not surprised that they got married,” Letourneau’s lawyer and friend David Gehrke told PEOPLE in 2017, after the couple first announced their plans to split before they later attempted to reconcile. “And I’m not surprised, in this day and age, that they are separating.”

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RELATED VIDEO: Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau’s Relationship Through the Years — from Prison to Marriage

“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 couple didn’t follow through on the plans to separate. Letourneau, 57, and Fualaau, 35, still lived together. They were occasionally spotted out in the Seattle area.

But the reconciliation didn’t work and the source says the separation is real this time.

“She tried very hard,” says the source. “You have to remember: she gave up a lot to be with him. The idea of throwing it all away now is awful to her. But it takes two to make things work, and I don’t think they have it in them anymore.”

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