Where is the love? What experts have to say about the growing number of celebrities calling it quits
Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner filed for divorce in early September after just four years of marriage.
Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness separated after 27 years of marriage in September, as well.
Even the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau announced that he hand his wife Sophie Grégoire are divorcing after 18 years of marriage.
You see the trend? More and more celebrities are splitting up it seems. But why?
A Closer Look at Why Love Fails In Hollywood
Lynda Hinkle, a family law attorney practicing in New Jersey, was not surprised by the news that Jeremy Allen White, the rising star of FX’s The Bear, and actor Addison Timlin were also joining the divorce bandwagon. In fact, the actor just recently agreed to undergo alcohol testing as part of the custody agreement between him and his estranged ex-wife.
In a statement to HuffPost, Hinkle says, “I’m sure the pressure of having your career exploding and a rigorous filming schedule makes any preexisting challenges much harder, but how sad that one part of his life was blossoming while another part was dying on the vine.”
Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner Filed For Divorce In September
Hinkle also shares that she wasn’t very surprised to hear the news because celebrities divorce all the time due to their financial ability to do so.
“Unlike a lot of couples that I see in middle America who are staying together because they can’t manage to maintain the lifestyle they want for themselves or their children without doing so, a lot of celebrities can comfortably walk away with only a moderate dip in their affluence,” she said.
That may be true, but the recent surge in celebrity divorces this year indeed mirrors a genuine seasonal trend.
Summertime Was NOT Made For Lovin’
Back in 2016, a study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington revealed a consistent spike in divorce filings during March and August, following the winter and summer holidays, respectively.
“Holidays and vacations can also be very stressful, especially if there is already discontentment in the marriage,” UW associate sociology professor Julie Brines told HuffPost of her study. “These vacation ‘pauses’ from routine can raise a couple’s expectations and provide people with time to reflect on how the marriage is going.”
Looking at this, it would appear that the month of March is “a way out” from the holidays. Brines explained that it could be because couples need time to prepare for divorce.
“You’ve got to get your finances in order, find the right attorney and then actually work up the courage to file,” she says.
“Clients may contact me in advance so that we have a game plan, but then they wait to request a divorce or separation until after the vacation is over,” Carla Schiff Donnelly, a divorce attorney in Pittsburgh said about the lag between filing and the initial decision for divorce.
Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth Announced Their Divorce in March After 11 Years of Marriage
There’s also the less common scenarios of couples separating early in the summer. This decision could stem from various reasons, but one notable factor is that both parties may simply prefer not to spend their vacation in close proximity to their soon-to-be-ex.
“I’ve seen some women schedule a girls’ trip to replace their vacation plans,” Schiff Donnelly said.
Everyone’s Doing It!
Brines has reason to believe that divorce in Hollywood may actually be contagious.
“Research suggests that divorce is, in a sense, ‘contagious’ within a social network, so that’s a possible mechanism for why we see fairly well defined ‘peaks’ in divorce over time, although it doesn’t explain when those occur during the year,” Brines said.
Randall Kessler, a divorce attorney based in Atlanta with a track record of representing Real Housewives and Cardi B, among others, explains that he’s never caught off guard by celebrity divorces.
“Any relationship is vulnerable and celebrities much more so,” he said in an email. “The pressures they face, the fact that many around them often worship them and their celeb spouses may see them as regular people and not celebs, and the demands of always being ‘on’ all take their toll.”
When questioned about the apparent increase in divorce rates lately, Kessler responded by noting that divorce rates have been steadily climbing since he started his legal practice 35 years ago.
“COVID at first caused a slowdown but that was brief and then the onslaught came once people realized they may be stuck, for a while with someone they wanted to be away from,” he wrote.
Research Behind The Rise In “Gray Divorces”
Morghan Richardson, a partner and family law attorney at Tarter, Krinsky & Drogin LLP in Manhattan, said it’s been probably one of the most busiest seasons for the firm with the uptick in divorces.
“In July, I actually became concerned that we wouldn’t be able to keep up with the volume. Fortunately, we have expanded to more than double the size of our matrimonial department! Yes, we really were that busy.”
“Making a marriage last longer than a decade in Hollywood seems like a feat, and outwardly, they appeared so loyal to each other,” she adds.
Richardson also pointed out that the Jackman and Furness split is part of a larger divorce trend, known as “gray divorce.”
Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness Divorce After 27-Years of Marriage
Pew Research data from 2017 reveals that the divorce rate among individuals aged 50 and older almost doubled between 1990 and 2015. Notably, women tend to be the ones seeking divorce. Research by AARP shows that women initiate 66% of documented instances of gray divorces, while only 39% involve men seeking divorce, and merely 15% of cases result from both parties making the decision to split.
As far as a definite reason behind the trend, Hinkle believes that many people are realizing they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives in an unhappy, imperfect relationship.
“The fact is, there was a time when we felt a lot of pressure in our culture to stay together, and the pressure is shifting to the idea that we have to put ourselves first when relationships are no longer serving us,” she said. “When you’re a divorce attorney, you just roll with it.”
What celebrity split shocked you the most this year?