Celebrity Parents Who Survived Divorce
Divorce is almost always messy — and even more so when there are children involved. But after some time, both singledom and co-parenting can become second nature.
If you’re looking for some guidance, turn to these celebrity moms and dads who seem to have figured it out — or at least are trying their best to do so. Here they share insight on all things divorce, from the good, to the bad, to the downright ugly and everything in between.
Anna Faris and Chris Pratt
Since almost the very moment they got together in 2007, actors Anna Faris and Chris Pratt were at the top of most #RelationshipGoals lists. They are funny, sweet and relatable. They wed two years later, and their son Jack was born, premature, in 2012. But in 2017, they announced they were separating — to the dismay of their devoted fans.
Anna Faris on choosing yourself: "Life is too short to be in relationships where you feel this isn't fully right or somebody doesn't have your back or somebody doesn't fully value you. Don't be afraid to feel your independence if things aren't right.”
Chris Pratt on parenting after divorce: “Divorce sucks. But at the end of the day, we’ve got a great kid who’s got two parents who love him very much. And we’re finding a way to navigate this while still remaining friends and still being kind to one another. It’s not ideal, but yeah, I think both of us are actually probably doing better.”
Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe
Actors Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon, who filmed “Cruel Intentions” early on in their relationship, have now been divorced longer than they were together. Married in 1999, they split in 2006 and now co-parent their two teen-aged kids, Ava (born 1999) and Deacon (born 2003).
Reese Witherspoon on making sense of divorce: "There are things in my life that are hard to reconcile, like divorce. Sometimes, it is very difficult to make sense of how it could possibly happen. Laying blame is so easy. I don't have time for hate or negativity in my life. There's no room for it."
Ryan Phillippe on the emotional fallout of divorce: "[Divorce was] the darkest, saddest place I had ever been. It was a struggle — there were a good four or five months of not being able to get out of bed. It was the worst time in my life. You get through it. It's a process that's not easy, but I get less and less sad about it every day."
Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman
When actress Drew Barrymore wed art dealer Will Kopelman and had two daughters, Olive (born 2012) and Frankie (born 2014), the tabloids proclaimed that the one-time “wild child” had finally settled down. Then, in 2016, they divorced — and a new type of family formed.
Drew Barrymore on family life, post-divorce: “I got two families. I went from, like, zero to two and it's a miracle and a blessing, and we do it in a way that I think a lot of other people are probably doing it, too, and sometimes, again, the road is different than what you tried to make it or what you expected and you just figure it out and figure it out with grace."
Drew Barrymore on feeling like a failure: “When you break up with somebody, you're like, 'Yeah, that didn't work.' When you get divorced, you're like, 'I'm the biggest failure. This is the biggest failure.' It's so shameful and hard to actually go through that, even privately."
Drew Barrymore on the support she received while going through divorce: “Everyone has just been so cool and chill and nice about everything that it quelled my own fears and demons about how we sort of have to go through things in life.”
Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum
Dancers-turned-actors Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum met on the set of “Step Up,” the cult street dance film, and charmed fans throughout their nearly nine-year marriage. They split amicably in spring of 2018, after having one daughter, Everly (born 2013).
Jenna Dewan on finding herself after splitting up: "I feel I've been on a wave of growth. It's always challenging to go through a big change and have the whole world have an opinion about it. It's okay for a relationship to change into a new form that is actually better for both people involved, and I think that's maybe what shocked everyone so much — that it can be a positive thing. That was ultimately what happened with us."
Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber
After an 11-year marriage, actors Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber separated — but have stayed connected to help provide a strong foundation for their two boys, Alexander (born 2007) and Samuel (born 2008).
Liev Schreiber on the importance of having a good relationship with your ex: “It’s important to support each other. I was making some jokes at breakfast about Mommy with the boys and their eyes light up when I talk about her. You can see how important it is to them that their parents care about each other.”
Naomi Watts on embracing change: "I feel, whether you're famous or not, transitions are scary for anybody. I feel like change is always scary, but that's only because transition for anyone is new, and you wonder how things are going to go."
Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin
When actors Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin divorced in 2002, it became one of the least civil breakups in Hollywood. They fought bitterly for custody of their sole child, Ireland (born 1995).
Kim Basinger on how divorce changed the way she parented: “Divorce is hard on a kid, no matter how you cut it. And ours was very public and nasty. So, I brought up Ireland in a very unconventional way. I just wanted her to be free. If she wanted to have her friends over and write over the walls with pen, that was fine. I wanted her childhood to be full of love and light and animals and friends.”
Alec Baldwin on his disdain for divorce lawyers: "I don't care if the judges and the lawyers die of heart attacks in the process of getting their job done. They are corrupt, inefficient, lazy, stupid — they're the most God-awful people.”
Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck
It took actors Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck three years to finalize their divorce, after a decade of marriage and having three children: Violet (born 2005), Seraphina (born 2009) and Samuel (born 2012).
Jennifer Garner on being twice-divorced: "It's one of the pains in my life that something I believe in so strongly I've completely failed at twice. You have to have two people to dance a marriage. My heart's a little on the tender side right now, and it's always easier to focus on the ways that you feel hurt, but I know that, with time and some perspective, I'll have a clearer sense of where I let the system down because there's no way I get off in this."
Jennifer Garner on divorce in the celebrity spotlight: “It hurts me so much, and I care so much. I cannot be driven by the optics of this. I cannot let anger or hurt be my engine. I need to move with the big picture always on my mind, and the kids first and foremost.”
Ben Affleck on co-parenting: "We're doing our very best and we're putting our kids first. That's how we're focusing on our day-to-day lives. And we don't know what the future's going to hold. Each step that we take is one where we prioritize our children and everything else comes second. She's just so good at doing that and sets such a good example. And that's a lead that I follow."
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin
The couple that brought “unconscious uncoupling” into the public imagination, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and musician Chris Martin ended their 10-year marriage in 2014. As co-parents to Apple (born 2004) and Moses (born 2006), however, they’ve managed to maintain a close relationship.
Gwyneth Paltrow on trying to do divorce differently: “I wanted to turn my divorce into a positive. What if I didn’t blame the other person for anything, and held myself 100 percent accountable? What if I checked my own s*** at the door and put my children first? And reminded myself about the things about my ex-husband that I love, and fostered the friendship?”
Gwyneth Paltrow on creating a new type of family after divorce: “We’re a family. Even though we’re not in a romantic relationship, we’re a true family and we like to do things to reinforce that we’re a family for the children and for each other. He’s like my brother.”
Chris Martin on managing depression after divorce: "You can come at it very aggressively and blame and blame. Or you can put yourself in the garage, so to speak. Take yourself apart and clean off the bits. Reassemble."
Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon
Singer Mariah Carey never thought she’d divorce actor Nick Cannon, but after seven years of marriage, that’s exactly what happened. The couple share twins Monroe and Moroccan (born 2011).
Mariah Carey on getting divorced a second time: "I never thought I would have babies with someone and then get divorced. Like, 'Oh, great job. Repeat your past.' But life happens. And it was supposed to happen."
Nick Cannon on marriage becoming stagnant: “I feel like when two people are in a relationship, it should be about growth. It should be a situation where everyone's becoming a better human being in the relationship. So, when you get to a point where there's no longer any growth and you're not bettering each other ... I felt like it was probably best, especially for our children, since they're the No. 1 priority if I could be the best human being and the best father from outside of that house.”
Nick Cannon on co-parenting: “At the end of the day, you’ve got to be a little selfless. You have to say ‘It’s not about us. This didn’t work out quite how we wanted it to, but look at the amazing blessing that we have in these wonderful children.’ So, you kinda put everything else to the side and really focus.”
Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale
Musicians Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale were married for 13 years before it all ended abruptly — after Stefani discovered Rossdale had been having a years-long affair with their nanny. Despite a messy split, they now co-parent their three boys: Kingston (born 2006), Zuma (born 2008) and Apollo (born 2014).
Gwen Stefani on why she worked so hard on what was a “tough” marriage: "[Marriage] was the one thing I didn’t want to fail at. People can say whatever they want to about me ... and I don’t get too affected. But I didn’t want them to think I was a failure. There’s nothing weird about how I felt.”
Gwen Stefani on making music from the pain of splitting up: “All I wanted my whole life was to have babies, be married, like what my parents have. Of course, you go through the ‘Why me?’ and feel sorry for yourself. But then I was like, ‘No, this happened to me already, and I made something good out of it,’ and that was ‘Tragic Kingdom.’”
Gavin Rossdale on the difficulty of divorce: "Apart from death, I think divorce is one of the hardest, most painful things to go through."
Amy Poehler and Will Arnett
Amy Poehler and Will Arnett were comedy’s “it” couple for the duration of their marriage, from 2003 through 2012. Despite their marriage ending, the famous duo still parent their two sons, Archie (born 2008) and Abel (born 2010), together.
Amy Poehler on what the divorce process actually feels like: "Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air. The process of divorce is about loading that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin and worrying what stuff will break when it lands."
Amy Poehler’s unique take on the loneliness of divorce: "When you are a person going through a divorce, you feel incredibly alone, yet you are constantly reminded by society of how frequently divorce happens and how common it has become. You aren't allowed to feel special, but no one knows the specific ways you are in pain."
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
After a 12-year relationship, which included a brood of six children, Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt in August 2016, after an incident on a private jet that included alcohol and allegations of child abuse (that were later cleared).
Angelina Jolie on keeping her emotions in check in front of the kids: "I was very worried about my mother, growing up — a lot. I do not want my children to be worried about me. I think it's very important to cry in the shower and not in front of them. They need to know that everything's going to be all right even when you're not sure it is."
Brad Pitt on the divorce process: "I heard one lawyer say, 'No one wins in court — it's just a matter of who gets hurt worse.' And it seems to be true; you spend a year just focused on building a case to prove your point and why you're right and why they're wrong, and it's just an investment in vitriolic hatred. I just refuse. And fortunately, my partner in this agrees. It's just very, very jarring for the kids to suddenly have their family ripped apart."
Louis C.K. and Alix Bailey
Divorce is, perhaps, one of the best things to happen to comedian Louis C.K.’s career — it’s the source of a great deal of his material. He split from Alix Bailey, the mother of his two daughters, in 2008.
Louis C.K. on how divorce can be good thing: "Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it's true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce.”
Louis C.K. on how divorce is forever: “I love being divorced. Every year has been better than the last. That is the only time I can say that [about my life]. By the way, I’m not saying don’t get married. If you meet someone, fall in love and get married. Then, get divorced. Get divorced! Because that's the best part! It's the best part! Marriage is just like a larvae stage for true happiness, which is divorce. Divorce is forever; it really actually is.”
Bridget Moynahan & Tom Brady
Moynahan was three months pregnant when she and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady broke up, and it wasn't an easy experience. As she told Harper's Bazaar in 2008, "going through that traumatic time of being heartbroken and then being pregnant turned my whole life upside down and inside out and just knocked the wind out of me."
Today, Moynahan and Brady are co-parenting pros. In fact, when the Pats won the Super Bowl this year — and her son was watching his dad make history — Moynahan tweeted: "Congratulations to the @Patriots! Sweet #4" to her nearly 41,000 twitter followers. That's one graceful (and gorgeous!) single mom.
Bridget Moynahan on breaking tradition: "I'm a traditional girl, and I believe in marriage, and I just always thought that's the way I'd be doing this. For a moment, it was hard for me to accept that this was the way I was going to have a family. I've had to recognize that there are just so many different options today."
Jewel and Ty Murray
Musician Jewel divorced cowboy Ty Murray in 2014. Together, they have one child together, a son named Kase (born 2011).
Jewel on being true to yourself: “One of the reasons I got divorced, though, is when I looked at my child, I realized I wasn’t the woman I wanted him to know. I had to change some things about myself.”