What did summer 2023 have against love and relationships? Jodie Turner-Smith filed for divorce from Joshua Jackson after four years of marriage and the birth of their daughter in 2020, making them the latest celebrity couple to call it quits. Other big marital breakups include Britney Spears and Sam Asghari, Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas, Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello, and even in-office Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire. Most recently, actor Eric McCormack from "Will & Grace" fame's wife, Janet, filed for divorce from the celeb, citing irreconcilable differences.
Divorce attorneys are taking note of these separations. Family law attorney Lynda Hinkle said she was most surprised by the news that Jeremy Allen White, the rising star of FX's "The Bear," and actor Addison Timlin were calling it quits. She said, "I’m sure the pressure of having your career exploding and a demanding filming schedule makes any preexisting challenges much harder, but how sad that one part of his life was blossoming while the other was dying.”
However, she added that she’s not that surprised because celebrities are typically pretty frequent divorcers because they can afford to. Hinkle added that unlike most couples in middle America who stay together because they can’t maintain the lifestyle they want for themselves or their children, most celebrities can comfortably walk away with only a slight dip in their affluence.
The reason why celebrity couples are divorcing.
However, there’s more at play here. The increase in celebrity summer divorces, or early fall, actually reflects a genuine seasonal trend in marital affairs. In 2016, researchers from the University of Washington found that divorce filings typically peaked in March and August, the periods after the summer and winter holidays. UW associate sociology professor Julie Brines said that vacations and holidays can be very stressful, especially if there’s already displeasure in the marriage. These vacation ‘pauses’ from the mundane can raise a couple’s expectations and give people the time to reflect on how the marriage is going.
That said, March is a way out from the holidays, but Brines shared that’s likely because couples need time to prepare for divorce. You have to get your finances in order, find an attorney, and then work up the courage to file. Most divorce attorneys say there’s typically a lag in filing after the initial decision is made. Clients may contact a divorce attorney in advance to have a game plan but then wait to request a separation or divorce until after the vacation is over. Then, some outliers separate early in the summer so they aren’t stuck going on vacations with their soon-to-be ex. For example, some women will schedule a girls’ trip to replace their vacation plans.
Is divorce contagious?
Another potential reason for all the Hollywood breakups? Divorce may be contagious. Research indicates that, in a sense, divorce is contagious within a social network, so that’s a possible reason why we see relatively well-defined peaks in divorce over time, though it doesn’t explain when those occur during the year. Atlanta-based divorce attorney Randall Kessler said celebrity divorces never surprise him. He said any relationship is vulnerable, and celebrities are much more so. The pressures they face, the fact that many around them often worship them and their celebrity spouses may see them as regular people and the demands of always being ‘on’ all take their toll.
Is divorce becoming more popular?
As for whether there’s been an increase in divorce filings, Kessler said it seems that divorces have been on the rise since he started practicing in 1988. He said COVID initially caused a slowdown, but that was brief. Then, the onslaught came once people realized they might be stuck for a while with someone they wanted to be away from. Morgan Richardson, a family law attorney, said this past summer was one of the busiest for divorces that she’s seen, adding that she was concerned that her firm wouldn’t be able to keep up with the volume. However, they expanded their matrimonial department.
Everyone had a celebrity divorce they were disappointed to hear about. For Richardson, it was actor Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, who separated after 27 years of marriage. Richardson said making a marriage last longer than ten years in Hollywood seems like a challenging task, and outwardly, the couple appeared loyal to each other. She pointed out that Furness and Jackman are part of a more significant divorce trend known as “gray divorce.” Over the last few decades, there’s been an increase in couples divorcing in middle age or older, often after years of marriage.
Pew Research data found that the rate of divorce after age 50 nearly doubled from 1990 to 2015. Typically, it’s women who want out. According to AARP research, women initiate 66 percent of reported cases of gray divorces, while only 39 percent of men and 15 percent of couples jointly decide to end their marriage. What’s driving this trend? According to Hinkle, most people are realizing they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives burdened with an unhappy relationship. She added there’s a time when we all have felt 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.
Relationship experts weigh in on this trend.
With every divorce or breakup announcement, fans are bound to wonder about the reasons for a celebrity couple’s split, despite affirmations from “sources” that their breakup was amicable. Can a celebrity breakup ever be amicable, especially when so many obstacles can put a strain on their relationship? Relationship experts suggest that the nature of a celebrity relationship in itself isn’t sustainable. Sabrina Alexis Bendory, a New York City-based dating coach, suggested that celeb couples aren’t built to last at all.
She told The Independent that the nature of being a celebrity isn’t conducive to having a long-lasting relationship, which is why it’s shocking when a celebrity couple last. To Bendory, it’s not shocking when a celebrity couple breaks up, but it’s surprising when they’re still together. As for how more celebrity couples can stay together, Kate Durocher, a Los Angeles-based dating coach, suggested working with a professional to ensure you're taking care of the relationship and prioritizing it.