The 15 Most Shocking Breakups in Real Housewives History
From cheating scandals to couples you never thought would grow apart, here are the most dramatic splits the franchise has seen
Dorinda Medley & John Mahdessian
After seven long years, the couple surprisingly called it quits in September 2019. On a 2020 episode of RHONY, Medley explained that they had simply grown apart over time.
"The breakup with John is sad. I mean, it's terrible. But I also know that I have to do what's best for me now," Medley said.
"Endings are painful, but they’re sometimes good and healthy and needed," she told audiences. "It’s so easy just to keep communicating and just falling into old habits. Because I have a feeling if I didn’t do this, it would just keep staying plateaued for 10 years, 15 years. And then what?"
Bethenny Frankel & Jason Hoppy
One of the most tumultuous relationships on the franchise was RHONY's Frankel and Hoppy. Things between the former couple, who are currently in a long-running custody battle over their 8-year-old daughter Bryn, had gotten so bad, Frankel had compared their home time together to "a torture chamber." Her comments were made during her testimony, as she took the witness stand on the third day of her and Hoppy’s custody trial in March 2019.
Frankel said she feared for her safety while sharing an apartment with Hoppy after they had separated, and also claimed during her testimony that she had a padlock installed on her bedroom door for protection. (The two separated in December 2012, and Frankel filed for divorce one month later.)
Hoppy’s lawyer had no comment when asked about the lock by PEOPLE.
Teresa & Joe Giudice
After 20 years of marriage and two prison sentences, the Giudices, who share four daughters, split in December 2019. The painful ending to their relationship was an ongoing storyline on RHONJ, and culminated in Joe's deportation to Italy.
“They discussed their future when Teresa and the girls went to Italy in early November and they agreed that each had to move on," a source exclusively told PEOPLE in 2019. "They are doing so amicably and very slowly."
"They have been very friendly with one another and are very supportive of each other’s happiness," the source added. "They still love one another, but as Teresa told Andy Cohen on their WWHL special, they are separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Neither is interested in a long-distance relationship.”
At the time, a source said that the two weren’t exploring divorce proceedings yet, though Teresa has since said she is working on it.
Shannon & David Beador
The RHOC couple looked as though they were going to turn over a new leaf after their vow renewal ceremony, but things didn't go as planned. After 17 years of marriage and welcoming three daughters, the Beadors split in 2017.
Things went from bad to worse after Shannon had tried to quash false allegations made by Vicki Gunvalson that David "beat the s---" out of her. The stress of her costar's hurtful claims only grew when the star learned that David was unfaithful to her just days before filming season 10. At that point, fans knew it was only a matter of time before the pair would call it quits.
Shannon was awarded $1.4 million and a total of $10,000 monthly support in their 2019 divorce settlement. The two agreed to joint legal and physical custody of their daughters.
Kenya Moore & Marc Daly
Their separation came less than one year after Moore gave birth to their first child, daughter Brooklyn Doris Daly, on Nov. 4, 2018.
During an April 2020 appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, the RHOA star said that while they’re not physically together amid the coronavirus pandemic, they’re in a much better place emotionally.
“We’re actually getting along better than we’ve gotten along probably [since] shortly after we got married,” she said. “I mean, it’s just been no arguments, no real fights or disagreements. He’s been really sweet and caring and thoughtful. It’s like, ‘Wow, this is the man I married.' ”
As for whether the star wants to work on their relationship, Moore said, “I think when you’re married you have to try everything to stay together. If you exhaust everything, then you’ll have your answer at the end of the day. So right now, yeah, if he’s going to be a changed person, yes. If he’s going to be the Marc that you’ve seen [this season], no.”
NeNe & Gregg Leakes
The Leakes know how to overcome adversity. The couple, who separated back in 2010 and divorced the following year, remarried in 2013 and continued their commitment to each other.
But fans were heartbroken for the couple in 2019 when Gregg was battling stage 3 colon cancer, and it looked as though he and NeNe would be heading toward divorce again. However, the couple endured Gregg's rough road to recovery and by March 2019, NeNe went on the record, on Instagram, to share with everyone that "#nomatterwhathappens #wearetheleakes."
“Oh Lawd! They say we separated now @greggleakes #fakenews I appreciate you tho Gregg for accepting and understanding that being a care taker is something I’ve never done and i have truly done the best i know how all while making tons of mistakes along the way,” she wrote. “You never asked to get sick and We were both thrown into these new positions over nite but whew chile you have kicked cancers ass!”
Ramona & Mario Singer
The RHONY star filed for divorce after she reportedly caught her husband with his alleged then-girlfriend, Kasey Dexter, in their Hamptons home in 2014. According to former Housewife Jill Zarin, Ramona had been "protecting" Mario at the time, looking the "other way when people told her he was cheating." But after giving him "many chances,"Ramona filed for divorce after 22 years of marriage.
“I tried to make my marriage work because I have strong values and I believe that people make mistakes,” Singer told PEOPLE exclusively in 2014. “But you reach a point where you realize the other person isn’t putting in as much effort as you are. And I reached my breaking point.”
Fast forward to March 2020, the former couple, and parents to daughter Avery, surprised fans when their daughter revealed that they were in quarantine as a family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Another family meal and you’re not going to believe who I’m with,” Avery said on Instagram, before flipping the video to show Ramona and Mario seated at the same table.
“I’m self-isolating with Avery’s dad,” Ramona said. “He’s going to eat dinner [with us] every night.”
Avery went on to call their meal “a plot twist for a quarantining squad.”
“Happy to all be together through this,” she said.
Alexis & Jim Bellino
RHOC fans watched as Alexis admitted she and Jim were in a "broken marriage for a lot of years" before officially divorcing in 2018 after being married for 14 years and welcoming three children together.
“It was definitely rocky, tumultuous, [and] hard — so many emotions,” Alexis said on PEOPLE TV’s Reality Check in 2019 of the relationship after their split. “Anyone going through a divorce knows everything I’m talking about. You’re crying over the loss of your family, you’re crying over sharing your kids. And I was full-time mom mode. He’d never changed a diaper or fed a kid. He didn’t know bath time, he didn’t know any of that stuff. So it was really hard for me to give up those reins for my family.”
Fans got to see Alexis and Jim’s relationship dynamic during her four seasons on RHOC. The Bravo cameras caught the ups and the downs of their marriage, including a recurring conflict they had over Alexis’ desire to spend time with her castmates.
“Wives stay home,” he told her during one particularly tense scene in an early episode. “There’s only so much time in a day to raise my children. You’ve got to say no to some things.”
Asked on Reality Check if she believed the show contributed to her breakup, Alexis said, “Jim and I have two different opinions about that.”
“For me, the show didn’t tear us apart more because it actually gave me something that was my own and it gave me a career and I wasn’t just a wife, a maid, a nurse, a mom, a taxi driver — I actually had something that was for me again,” she said. “But I know he feels that the show probably brought the marriage to an end.”
Since her split from Jim, Alexis has moved on with her now-boyfriend Andy “Drew” Bohn.
Meghan King & Jim Edmonds
The former couple, who were married for five years and share three children, continued their ongoing breakup saga in the spotlight as Meghan revealed that Jim had started seeing a friend of hers in January 2020. This friend happened to be the same friend the couple had a threesome with during their marriage. Jim only fueled their public back-and-forth by confirming that he is now officially dating that friend, whose name is Kortnie O’Connor.
Cynthia Bailey & Peter Thomas
Since tying the knot in January 2011, Bailey and Thomas weathered cheating scandals, squabbles with Bailey’s pals and sexual lulls. In season 6, Thomas told Bailey: “We can’t continue like this. Somebody needs an escape route.”
By 2016, the two called it quits and officially finalized their divorce a year later. Bailey and Thomas have had a peaceful split and have remained friendly. He also appeared on the show for a little while following their split.
Phaedra Parks & Apollo Nida
During her time on the show, Parks stayed tight-lipped about her divorce from then-husband Nida — no matter how much her castmates nudged her to spill details.
“I never wanted to negatively speak about Apollo,” Parks exclusively told PEOPLE in April 2017. “At the end of the day, Apollo is [our] children’s father. And so I want them to be able to make their own opinions about who he is as a father.”
As for why she didn't confide in her former castmates, Parks said, "None of them had been supportive throughout the process. So I knew their questions weren’t coming from a place of support — it was from a place of being nosy, wanting to know what was going on with my marriage and the divorce.”
Adrienne Maloof & Paul Nassif
Although the former RHOBH star and ex-husband Nassif were seen bickering on the show, things were supposedly a lot worse when the cameras were off.
In 2012, Nassif filed for divorce from his wife of 10 years, with whom he shares three children. Things got really dark during their custody battle, which involved them filing court documents describing shouting matches with accusations about guns, insults and physical abuse.
“Adrienne is a really fierce momma bear,” a source told PEOPLE at the time. “The tension in the house was something that kids didn’t need to hear. The split is the best thing for everyone.”
Yolanda Hadid & David Foster
Hadid and Foster's divorce was made final in 2017, after four years of marriage. The former RHOBH star has been open about how her battle with Lyme disease affected her relationship with the music producer.
“All of a sudden all of the things we shared, all of the things we used to love to do together — go for walks in the morning, having a studio in the house and blasting music all day, having dinner parties — that all shut down,” she told PEOPLE in August 2017. “I couldn’t participate in that life anymore.”
Hadid also opened up about the toll the illness took on her marriage in her memoir, Believe Me: My Battle With the Invisibility of Lyme Disease.
“I’m starting to feel that David is unhappy with the fact that I can’t be by his side the way that I used to be,” she wrote. “I try to make light of it and joke that he married a lemon. It’s sad but true. I went from being the funny girlfriend who was up for anything and had endless energy to the wife who is too sick to be by his side.”
“He lost his wingman, his partner in crime, and I felt as if he’s starting to get impatient with my recovery,” she continued. “I understand that even brief periods of illness can strain important relationships in your life. A chronic condition like mine, one that has consumed years of our lives, poses enormous challenges.”
Following their separation, Foster got married in 2019 to Katharine McPhee. It was a second marriage for McPhee and Foster's fifth. Prior to Hadid, Foster was married to B.J. Cook, Rebecca Dyer and Linda Thompson.
Tamra Judge & Simon Barney
In January 2010, Barney filed for divorce, claiming in his filing that Judge “has been verbally abusive and has committed acts of disloyalty and adultery.” (She denied all allegations at the time). Later that year, Barney was charged with domestic violence after allegedly throwing a retractable dog leash at his then-wife. (The charges were ultimately dropped.)
Their divorce was finalized in 2011, and they agreed to share equal custody of their three children: Spencer Sophia and Sidney. (Tamra also has a son, Ryan Vieth, from a previous relationship.) But even well after Tamra got married to third husband Eddie Judge, she still found herself fighting with Barney.
In March 2014, he attempted to get full custody of their kids, filing court documents that said she had been neglectful of them.
“I am saddened by the false stories my ex-husband has released,” Tamra told PEOPLE at the time. “He has no foundation to his allegations and in my opinion will do anything to destroy me. Unfortunately, he is hurting our children and my family in the process. I love my children more than anything in this world.”
Ultimately, Simon’s case would be denied — but Tamra would still relinquish custody of Sidney to Simon after their daughter opted to live with him full-time.
It would be years until they spoke again.
Camille & Kelsey Grammer
Camille and Kelsey, who share children Mason and Jude, were married for nearly 14 years before she filed for divorce in July 2010. Both have been open about their contentious relationship.
Kelsey met current wife Kayte Walsh in England when he was still married to Camille. The former RHOBH star filed for divorce from Kelsey in 2010 after he told her of his affair when filming wrapped on season 1 of Housewives.
Kelsey has said that he regretted how he handled his divorce from Camille, telling Anderson Cooper in 2012 that he wished he was honest about his affair from the get-go.
“It was the wrong decision,” he said. “I should have come home from England when I first met Kayte and said, ‘Listen, I’ve met somebody and this hasn’t been working for a long time.’ And I regret not doing that.”
In 2018, Camille added to the conversation, expressing on Twitter that she was disappointed their marriage didn't end in a "more civil manner."
“I don’t begrudge him his happiness,” Camille wrote. “What’s unnerving is that fact I was there to help him get through some of his hardships and supported his career and his sobriety. I was [right] by his side and he acts like I never existed that’s disappointing.”
“We were together through his success. I was there during the writers strike and the cancellation of Back to You. We moved the company to our home in Malibu. I sat at his bedside for 8 days straight while he was in the cardiac intensive care unit in NYC. I read him poetry and helped washed his hair,” she continued. “Now I don’t exist.”