Benign break-ups, peaceful partings, & other divorce euphemisms that will soon become commonplace

Benign break-ups, peaceful partings, & other divorce euphemisms that will soon become commonplace

Compared to the tumultuous divorces of decades past (see: Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, etc.), celebrity splits of recent years are kind of ho-hum. And Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin may be to blame.

Should we expect more news of celebrity separations where the words “gentle,” “conscious,” and “magical” are used instead of the staples “nasty” and “bitter”? If these cases are any indication, the answer is yes.

The Conscious Uncoupling

Even when she’s trying to avoid drama and attention, she can’t help but attract them. In 2014, Gwyneth Paltrow famously received backlash for announcing she and then-husband Chris Martin have “consciously uncoupled.” And she didn’t even come up with the term!

The Oscar winner may win the hearts of film critics, but she has also gained a reputation as one of America’s most hated celebrities. Being so calm and collected during their divorce didn’t help matters.

Chryneth did not make amicable separation trendy, but they inadvertently reinforced the idea that it IS possible to become friendly exes — extremely friendly, in their case. Hate Gwyneth’s lifestyle website all you want, but she reminded the world of the possibility of divorcing while keeping one’s dignity intact.

The Gentle Separation

The public didn’t mourn Justin Theroux and Jennifer Aniston’s divorce like it did Jen and Brad’s or Brad and Angelina’s. Nevertheless, it was still devastating because no one likes to see America’s sweetheart get her heart broken.

When J&J split in February 2018, Justin went on record to say that it was a hostility-free parting and that it was “a gentle separation.” Their joint announcement contained the statements “two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple,” “the decision was mutual,” and “continued friendship.”

That’s good for them, bad for sensationalist tabloids.

The fact is that quick, hysterics-free divorces happen all the time. In Washington state, the process can be finalized 90 days after the spouses have filed and signed the petition for the dissolution of marriage. That is, unless child custody, spousal support, and other issues surface. For a separation deemed gentle, 90 days is a reasonable length of time indeed.

But if Justin and Jen had filed for divorce in the Evergreen state, the process would probably take longer than 90 days. Washington is a Community Property state, which means the court will have to divide their property and debt equitably in case they couldn’t come to an agreement.

The End of a Magical Journey

Sparks flew when Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan met on the set of Step Up. They dated, got married, and had a child. After nine years of marriage, they announced their split via heartfelt matching Instagram posts. Theirs was also an amicable separation.

If we want to dig deeper and read between the lines of their statement, we could read “It’s time to take some space” as “We can no longer stand each other” and “We continue to be friends” as “I’ll see you in court!”.

The truth is much blander: They separated due to Channing’s hectic work schedule. That’s probably because there’s a great demand for Magic Mike sequels (More Magic, More Mike), which will only make Chan’s schedule even more matrimony-unfriendly.

The real revelation, however, is that the Step Up stars have been living separately for months, presumably to iron out the details of their divorce (and child custody concerns) before they made an official announcement AND filed the paperwork. If this has indeed been the case, it’s a good example of an amicable separation that’s not just amicable on paper — something Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner should have emulated.

As family lawyers in Seattle, we’ve seen our fair share of drawn-out divorces and some peaceful dissolutions. Whether you and your ex-spouse are gently separating or breaking off The War of The Roses style, you’ve got to have an attorney drafting uncoupling papers for you — call Buckingham, LaGrandeur & Williams.