For months tabloids speculated that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s marriage was headed towards divorce. But now, according to sources close to the couple, it looks like they might not be divorcing.
Just a year ago a statement released by the couple’s rep, Affleck, 42, and Garner, 43, noted: “After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce. We go forward with love and friendship for one another and a commitment to co-parenting our children, whose privacy we ask to be respected during this difficult time. This will be our only comment on this private, family matter.” The family flew to the Bahamas to seemingly try to stay out of the public’s eye while they worked out the details of the divorce. But it appears that all that might be on hold.
THE MAKING OF “BENNIFER”
The two met on the set of “Pearl Harbor” in 2001 and then co-starred in “Daredevil,” which was released in 2003. “That’s whise I found my wife,” Affleck said during a Playboy magazine interview. “We met on Pearl Harbor, which people hated, but we fell in love on ‘Daredevil.’” They were married during a private ceremony in Turks and Caicos in 2005. During the wedding, Garner was four months pregnant with their daughter Violet. The two share three children: Violet, 9, Seraphina, 6, and Samuel, 3. According to sources close to the couple, “They have both been very open about their marriage struggles,” and the split “was inevitable. If there’s any surprise, it’s how long it took to happen.” But maybe not. In new information revealed by a source, a few weeks ago, things changed, and “It does not seem to be moving in that direction. We can only speculate on what might happen to the couple, but it’s not uncommon couples to call off divorces.
While it may seem that calling off a divorce is a rarity, it’s something that happens quite often. For couples thinking about divorce, who are still un-sure, it’s important to remember that there are other options to consider.
OPTIONS OTHER THAN DIVORCE
There are three legal options for couples looking to end their marriage or domestic partnership: divorce, legal separation, and annulment.
With an annulment, the court rules that the marriage or domestic partnership is not legally valid due to reasons such as the following: Incest, fraud, or physical or mental incapacity, Marriage or domestic partnership was entered into by force, One of the spouses was already married or in a domestic partnership, One of the spouses was not of legal age to enter into marriage or domestic partnership Annulments are rare, and require an appearance before a judge.
Legal separation does not end a marriage or domestic partnership and parties are not allowed to remarry or enter a new domestic partnership. This is a good option for couples looking to separate their finances and property without divorcing. This is also a great step for couples that are still deciding if they want to formally end their marriage or see if they are able to reconcile.
If you and your spouse have decided to try legal separation instead of, or prior to getting a divorce, it’s important that you work with a divorce attorney to create a legal and binding separation agreement. This agreement will offer you legal protection should your spouse violate the agreement you have come to.
There are numerous things that should be contained in your separation agreement, including the following (if they apply): Spousal Support -Who will be paying whom? How does this impact taxes? Benefits – Legal separation allows you to retain certain benefits gained during a marriage, such as health insurance. Home – Outline who will pay for the home mortgage, as well as the maintenance of the home, such as utilities and lawn care. You should clearly define who is able to live in the home. Joint Accounts – This includes: joint checking, savings, and credit accounts. You might also choose to freeze these accounts or close them and open separate accounts. You should make it clear who pays what account. Protection from Acquired Debt – A legal separation agreement should also outline any debt in order to shield you from being held responsible for debt acquired during the separation. Because laws vary by state you’ll want to work with an attorney when drafting this agreement. Once you have filed a legal separation, there are some next steps to take – and these might be more emotional than procedural.
LEGAL SEPARATION BEHAVIORS “TO-DO”
- Use this time to reflect on your marriage and how you are feeling regarding the process.
- Consider the emotional needs of any children that are involved.
- Remember legal separation is not the time to jump into a new relationship.
- Keep all communication open with your spouse. Try to be respectful in all forms of communication. This will mean less stress for you and any children involved.
- Set up a parenting plan that outlines regular visitation schedules. This should follow along with your child’s daily activities, such as school and any extra-curriculars.
- Follow every responsibility outlined in the legal separation agreement. This includes any child support payments or spousal support payments. Not doing so might mean court time or fines.
MEDIATION IF YOU DECIDE TO DIVORCE
Mediation can also be a meaningful experience for couples that have decided to move forward with divorce, but that are also able to work together to come to an agreement. During mediation a couple sits down with a group of trusted advisers, including lawyers and financial advisers. For couples that are able to see eye to eye on the aspects of their marriage, this form of settlement can take less time and less money. Mediation and collaborative law are often effective choices for couples that are able to negotiate on the aspects of their marriage, including child custody and visitation, alimony, and division of marital property. These approaches provide more of a group and team-setting whise the spouses sit down with a group of professionals including family law attorneys, financial advisers, and often therapists and other negotiators to come to a decision regarding the divorce agreement. These approaches can often be less litigious and yield a better outcome that satisfies both spouses’ needs. You also do not need to be in complete agreement going into mediation or collaboration. Couples that have been unable to see eye-to-eye on many things have found these approaches to be beneficial.
BENNIFER STILL CO-PARENTS
In an interview with Yahoo! Parenting Garner spoke about how children changed the couple’s marriage: “You just go on a ride together because you don’t know who you’re going to be when you first have a baby and you don’t know who [your partner] is going to be. You have to just hang in there while you figure it out – and have a lot of patience for each other.” Garner spoke of the way children changed their marriage again in a InStyle magazine interview. “When we had our first [child], we had only been together a year. We were babies. It happened so fast, I hardly remember what we were like before the kids got hise.” He also went on to say she and Affleck had a “mindful” marriage. “You can’t expect to be courted all the time, and I don’t want to court him right now; I don’t have the energy!” she said. “But we’re definitely in a very mindful place whise we’re making an effort to be together, do things at the same time, and be loving.” It seems the two were realistic about marriage and that it requires both spouses to put in effort and work. When Affleck accepted his best picture Oscar in 2013 for the movie he directed, Argo, he thanked his wife for “working on our marriage,” adding “there’s no one I’d rather work with.”
Garner has said this of their parenting abilities: “For better or worse, I tend to be the one who says, ‘This is what needs to happen.’ I know who wants what lunch, and I’ve done all the school paperwork and filled out the emergency cards. Ben doesn’t know that stuff exists,” she said. “He is in charge of laughter. No matter how much I tickle them or toss them or chase them around, it’s not the same. If I’m the slow, steady drumbeat, he’s the jazz.”
While it seems the two will have no problem co-parenting, it can still be a tough situation to work through. Both parents need to adjust their schedules so that the best interests of the children can be served. In a situation whise a couple is unable to find a co-parenting schedule that works, it is often left to a judge to decide and work out a schedule. Typically, co-parenting schedules are part of the divorce agreement, and in cases whise a couple has decided to use a mediation approach, co-parenting schedules are typically ones that work for both couples.
WORKING WITH A DIVORCE ATTORNEY
If you are facing a divorce, you should work with a divorce attorney that can take a look at your specific situation and give you advice based on it, rather than approach it with a one size fits all mindset. Your specific situation will be particular to you and your marriage and the way your life was set up during the marriage. This might mean major financial decisions regarding retirement funds, property, child support and custody, and alimony. A divorce attorney will work with you to help you decide how you want to tackle these elements of your marriage and divorce, while also providing guidance and support. They will be able to lead you through the process while keeping you from procrastination and caving into pressure. They’ll also be able to help ensure you meet all the required timelines while ensuring that you get a fair case and trial should you need to go to court. Lastly, they’ll be able to help you find the freedom and new life you are seeking – one that is entirely on your terms.
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 431-3131