Clay Pell has filed for divorce from iconic Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan after four years of marriage

By Char Adams
March 30, 2017 03:21 PM

Michelle Kwan‘s husband of four years has filed for divorce from the iconic Olympic figure skater, PEOPLE confirms — in a sad twist to a love story many saw as a real-life fairy tale.

Clay Pell, 35, filed the divorce documents in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, a court spokeswoman told PEOPLE. Pell cited irreconcilable differences as the cause of the split, according to court documents.

“It is with deep regret that I share that Michelle and my marriage is coming to an end,” Pell said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “This is a sad and difficult turn of events for our family. I love Michelle, and wish her the very best as her life takes her in a new direction.”

Caitlin Maloney

Pell continued, “I want to thank friends and family who have given wisdom and support, and I ask for privacy during this challenging time.”

A Match Made in Heaven

About five years ago, the former love birds couldn’t help but gush about their compatibility and love for each other. Pell proposed to Kwan in September 2012 on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island, with Kwan telling PEOPLE then that she and Pell were perfect for each other.

“It was a simple decision and it made sense, that’s what’s so exciting to me,” Kwan said of the proposal. “We are working together as a team, like in [pair skating].”

Caitlin Maloney

Pell also couldn’t help but talk about how much the pair had in common.

“It was amazing from the very beginning how in sync our way of thinking is, our basic values and our sense of priorities, he said. “We just both got each other.”

An Emotional Wedding Day

About a year after getting engaged, the two wed in a ceremony that brought tears to the Olympian’s eyes.

“There were so many tears shed, especially from me!” Kwan told PEOPLE.

Michelle Kwan (left) and Clay Pell
Courtesy of Caitlin Maloney

She cried as she walked down the aisle with her father, Danny Kwan, in an ivory Vera Wang gown. Pell, a former Lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard, was dressed in full uniform for the wedding.

“You could feel the love Michelle and Clay have for each other,” one guest said then. “They are truly a perfect match.”

Pell was overcome with emotion during the moving ceremony, telling PEOPLE then: “As she was walking into the church, I could feel her.”


“I could feel this energy, this sense of grace and movement and comfort to me the whole time,” he continued. “This contentedness, whether we were holding hands, or hugging, or kissing – she has such warmth for me and I just felt this fire the whole day, and I still do.”

Loving Memories

Pell and Kwan have no children together.

In the early years of their marriage, Kwan’s Instagram account had been filled with photos of her smiling husband. Pell’s rarely-used account features two shots of him and Kwan together.

However, the last picture Kwan shared of her husband was uploaded more than a year ago.


The shot showed Pell — a former White House staffer under Barack Obama — and Kwan smiling for a group photo in business attire as they took to the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton.

Photos shared on Kwan’s account showed the couple gearing up for some fun on the ice skating rink, meeting Vera Wang and posing with stars of The Nutcracker.

A shot on Pell’s account showed the stars looking lovingly into each other’s eyes.

Pell cited irreconcilable differences in his divorce filing. PEOPLE has been unable to reach him or Kwan for comment thus far.