The Award for 2015’s Friendliest Divorce by Leslie O’Neal

2015 saw the demise of some of Hollywood’s biggest power couples.  Although Tinseltown isn’t exactly known for longevity when it comes to marriage, there certainly seemed to be a noticeable spike in the divorce rate this year.  It started with the announcement that power couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are parting ways after 10 years of marriage.  Soon after, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale separated after a 12 year marriage, and then Gwen’s fellow Judge on The Voice, Blake Shelton, devastated country music fans when it was revealed that he and Miranda Lambert were splitting.  The year finished up with the surprising announcements that Kate Beckinsale & Len Wiseman were divorcing, as were Yolanda Foster & David Foster and Halle Berry & Oliver Martinez.

Thankfully, not all of this year’s splits were ugly, as they tend to be when high incomes, high net worth, and public images are at stake.  Yolanda and David Foster released a joint statement to the press praising one another for the time they spent together.  Blake and Miranda took the “uncontested divorce” approach, which means that they had already agreed on all terms of their separation and finalized everything before they announced their split and filed for divorce in July, 2015.

But the award this year for the friendliest celebrity divorce for 2015 goes to . . . Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner!  Bennifer has taken a refreshingly cooperative approach to this new chapter in their family.  They are not just being cordial to one another – they are still acting as though they are practically married – presumably for the sake of their children.  Six months after they publically announced their split, Affleck and Garner continue to live in the same house (despite clearly having the money to afford two separate homes).  They have even vacationed together as a family for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

While this type of friendly living arrangement is not very common, it’s an approach that can work in certain circumstances.  Many couples choose to  live in the same house for a short period of time so that the children don’t have to relocate every other weekend to visit whichever parent has moved out.  This is typically an option only when both parents still get along fairly well, but is not a long term solution.  Some couples cannot afford for one party to move out and have no choice but to stay in the same home until the house sells or their lease terminates.  Another option many couples try is what’s known as “nesting,” which is when the children remain in the home 100% of the time and the parents rotate in and out depending on whose parenting time it is.  If, however, a divorce case becomes contested enough that the parties find themselves in a courtroom; the Judge will not likely impose any of these shared housing scenarios, as their success rates are relatively low.  A judge will almost always order one party to relocate if it is at all financially feasible or if either parent has a local relative that they can live with temporarily.

It appears that Ben and Jen certainly see the benefits of these approaches, at least temporarily.   All of this friendly behavior not only benefits the children, but also benefits the parties’ bank accounts!  Less fighting means that the issues are resolved quicker, less money goes to us divorce attorneys, and both sides avoid the emotional turmoil of a courtroom battle filled with hurtful accusations.   Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, those who have wrestled with a divorce case of their own can probably agree that being friendly to the person you are divorcing falls into the old “easier said than done” category…..But here’s to Bennifer for showing us that a divorce can be friendly for the children’s sake, and here’s hoping that celebrity marriages fare better in 2016.