In our celebrity-driven universe, the VIPS of the celeb set have become the arbiters of what makes the 24-hour news cycle. For example, the latest -Hollywood break-ups of Ben and Jennifer or, Miranda and Blake or, Gwen and Gavin. Even the big news outlets are reporting the collapse of these VIP marriages.
Whether it is the $100 million divorce, baby mama drama or the John and Kate Plus 8 saga, all have found headlines on the pages of countless tabloids and entertainment programs. Why? Because it’s big business, big money, big scandal. But a very un-Hollywood-like trend has taken place in the ranks of the celebrity divorce. No more he said/she said, headline-grabbing divorces, but instead, the idea of the child-centered, cooperative lifestyle has gained momentum.
Rather than rearranging the kids’ lives to accommodate the adult decision to separate, the focus becomes on maintaining the stability of the kids to lessen the dramatic changes and psychological impact of the breakup. Some scenarios include continuing to share a home, to be geographically nearby one another, to keep new partners out of the mix, to vacation together or to mediate instead of litigate.
In March 2014, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and musician Chris Martin announced their “conscious uncoupling” on Paltrow’s lifestyle website Goop after a decade of marriage. That specific terminology sprang up front and center throughout the country, causing psychologists, marriage counselors and commoners alike to discern, discuss and decipher what conscious uncoupling would look like.
While the term itself was not new, having been coined years before by a relationship expert and her filmmaker friend, it did receive an unexpected boost in public exposure when promoted by this star couple.
It turns out that this free-spirited approach to uncoupling looked like what has become referred to as the collaborative divorce. Paltrow and Martin share homes across the street from one another, enjoy holidays together with their children and make a concerted effort to tone down the divorce drama expected of a Hollywood “it” couple.
But before Gwyneth and Chris drew our attention to the best-case divorce scenario, other noted celebrity couples beat them to the punch. Uptown Girl Christie Brinkley and Piano Man Billy Joel, parents of the now grown Alexa Ray Joel, divorced in a remarkably sane fashion and continue to express affection for one another to this day. Reacting to Joel’s July 4, 2015, nuptials and the announcement of his family expansion some 20 years after their split, Brinkley commented on Instagram, “Congratulations to the glowing bride and groom. And to my daughter Alexa, who has a wonderful friend in Alexis! Wishing the growing family every happiness!”
Actors Courtney Cox and David Arquette also hoisted the white flag when they chose to separate. Parents to Coco, the two still refer to one another as friends, enjoy dinner parties together and make co-parenting priority number one. “Obviously, kids always want their parents to be together,” Cox remarked to MORE magazine in January 2014. “But as divorces go, this is the best one we could provide.”
Perhaps the gold-standard of amicable divorce is that of superstars Bruce Willis and Demi Moore who shared three daughters and 11 years of marriage. Not only did this modern family vacation together, Willis and Moore bought homes in the same New York apartment building and attended each other’s subsequent weddings. Their combined efforts to raise their children has solicited praise from relationship experts who resoundingly support their path of respect and mutual forbearance.
Most recently, actors and humanitarian couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced their divorce after 10 years of marriage. (Is the seven-year itch now 10?) All signs point to a child-centered separation with the two sharing different homes on their multimillion-dollar California estate, giving their kids access to both parents without the usual divorce drop off/pick up angst.
This type of arrangement resembles the nesting approach to divorce, wherein parents take turns in the family home to provide continuity for the children. Tabloids have printed daily pictures of these two still wearing their wedding rings since their divorce announcement. It has been suggested that this act is for the sake of making the transition easier for their three young children.
What these couples have in common is not the catchy divorce terminology splashed across tabloids and social media. It is the commitment to see that their children feel loved and well cared for. No matter the size of the bank account or the living arrangement, the most powerful takeaway from these celeb couples is the move towards courteous and respectful separations geared towards thwarting the age-old stereotypes of greedy and vengeful estrangements. Fortunately, it looks like these star couples have left those to the big screen. Let that be the new headline.