Caroline Manzo, The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Nino Munoz/Bravo

We know Caroline Manzo is leaving the Real Housewives of New Jersey, but exactly why she's departing the popular reality series hasn't really been made clear.

While the obvious answer would be that Manzo's decision stems from the fact that she has filmed a spinoff pilot for Bravo tentatively titled Manzo'd With Children (though it has yet to be picked up), a source close to the show reveals something very different.

"Caroline wants out because she knows if she stays on the show, it's only a matter of time before rumors of [husband] Al's cheating becomes a storyline this season," the source tells E! News. "The new girl, Penny, made allegations during filming this past season that Al had a history of cheating, but they were cut."

The source adds, "Bravo is very protective of Caroline and wants to keep her happy. So, they're letting her leave RHONJ and give her a spinoff attempt. The spinoff will be light-hearted and family-oriented, which is the image Caroline wants to protect. But if she stayed on RHONJ, there's no way she'd be able to keep the rumors about Al cheating quiet and she knows it."

Manzo has been with RHONJ since its debut in 2009. Bravo has no comment on her departure.

Meanwhile, the season-five finale of the show airs this Sunday, Sept. 29 on Bravo.

(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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