Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale. Reba McEntire and Narvel Blackstock. Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick (kinda). Zayn Malik and Perrie Edwards (sort of). Kermit and Miss Piggy (if we’re stretching).
If summer lovin’ is real, then so is what comes with it: summer divorcin’.
As every magazine, website or infotainment show will tell you, there’s something in the Hollywood water right now. Nearly every other day of the past two weeks, a well-known couple have announced their demise — some of them had been together for over a decade while others had yet to make it down the aisle.
Despite the differences in the various duos that have chosen to end their respective partnerships — from Oscar winners to country superstars to reality TV mavens — breaking up is never easy, especially when there are kids (or Grammys) involved.
But, like seemingly all relationships involving famous people, each have fairly similar stories and by-the-book paths to follow to the end of their amicable, co-parenting road. We took a look at the five steps that lead to — and tie up loose ends of — a celebrity divorce.
Step 1: Be accused of cheating.
Affleck made it barely a month after his divorce announcement with Garner before being accused of sleeping with his children’s nanny. Stories of past affairs and good ol’ Jen soldiering on through his alleged infidelities immediately cropped to the top of the news cycle.
For country music’s hottest couple, the cheating rumors at least had a bit of gender equality. Different reports pegged both Lambert and Shelton as separately cheating on the other.
Disick spent the majority of his nearly decade-long relationship with the eldest Kardashian sister fighting off cheating rumors, so it was no surprise that it was allegations of unfaithfulness that finally did them in. (Pictures of him with his arm draped around a former girlfriend were supposedly the last straw.) And rumors of Rossdale’s loyalty to Stefani have plagued the 13 married years they spent together.
Step 2: Maybe have a history of substance abuse.
Addictions are no joke and can be devastating for both the people partaking and those closest to them who get pulled into a destructive vortex. Shelton has been accused of having drinking issues; Affleck had been to rehab in the past, and was also rumored to have a bit of a gambling problem; and Disick has entered many a spiral as captured on various episodes of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
At separate points in all of their relationships, those alleged problems have been the fodder of the tabloids in their endless mission to be the first to get the divorce rumors right.
Step 3: Deny, deny, deny.
The only relationship of those listed above that had not been constantly harangued by break-up rumors was that of McEntire and Blackstock. (Perhaps gossip rags tend to assume that if your relationship has made it past the quarter-century mark, you’re safe. Alas.)
But for all the rest, there have been multiple moments throughout the past year that have cast a strange, questionable light on their union. Solo outings without rings on a significant other’s birthday (as in Affleck’s case), arguably overly friendly photos of one-half of the couple with someone who was definitely not in the other half of the couple (as evidenced by Malik and Disick), or an awkwardly phrased slip of the tongue (Affleck’s “I’m not very present” magazine quote and Stefani’s worries about having her husband on the same show as her.)
But all proclaimed everything was peachy keen … until it simply wasn’t.
Step 4: Be calculated with your scheduling.
While most of these break-ups come as a surprise to many, stories inevitably leak out that the stars have been separated for quite some time and this was in the works for a while. Ben and Jen were supposedly separated for 10 months before announcing their split from the Bahamas on the day after their 10-year anniversary.
McEntire and Blackstock had apparently been separated for several months before the split of their 26-year marriage was made public. In the case of One Direction’s Malik, who had already been raked across the coals in the press for supposedly cheating on his fiancee and then quitting the boy band, he seemed to wait until he was in a good and non-controversial place in the media before breaking up with Edwards earlier this week.
The break-up of Stefani and Rossdale’s union seemed out of left field, but “an insider” told Us Weekly that the split “was a long time coming.” Looking back at interviews with the Bush frontman, cracks in the facade were already slightly apparent. He told Rolling Stone in January that “Gwen’s so successful and so good at what she does that it always keeps you in check at the house. You might come in with two of something, and she’s got 12 of something. You can never get over-excited, there’s something about that.”
And Lambert and Shelton? They’ve been joking about their supposed demise for years. But this time, no such sparring was had.
Step 5: Use a boilerplate statement to the media to announce the end of your relationship.
If there are kids, generally the term “co-parenting” will appear once or twice. The statement should mention that it pains the couple tremendously. Generally, it should be discussed that they plan to remain great friends. And, of course, the duo must ask for privacy at this time, no matter how paparazzi-seeking they were in the actual relationship.
McEntire and Blackstock: “In a joint statement, Narvel Blackstock and Reba McEntire have announced that they have been separated for the past few months, after 26 years of marriage. Despite this being the end of their marriage, they continue to support each other. They have worked together for 35 years and will continue to do so. They have asked that you respect their privacy during this time.”
Stefani and Rossdale: “While the two of us have come to the mutual decision that we will no longer be partners in marriage, we remain partners in parenthood and are committed to jointly raising our three sons in a happy and healthy environment. To that end, we respectfully request privacy from the media during this time.”
Affleck and Garner: “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. Thank you for understanding.”
Shelton and Lambert: “This is not the future we envisioned. And it is with heavy hearts that we move forward separately. We are real people, with real lives, with real families, friends and colleagues. Therefore, we kindly ask for privacy and compassion concerning this very personal matter.”