The Joys Of Modern Life
46. civilised divorce
Tuesday 25 May 1999
The modern response is for exes to carry on living together, despite their difficulties. This practical "split - what split?" solution keeps the kids (and the bank manager) happy, and prevents tedious arguments over who gets to keep the Charles & Diana tea-towels and the Celine Dion CD, because you both do.
The Duchess of York is at the vanguard of this movement. In 1997, after finding that she was "a bit short", she moved back into Sunningdale Park with her former husband and "bestest" friend, Prince Andrew. Their daughters apparently love the "co-parenting" arrangement. The Duchess explained the mechanics on The Oprah Winfrey Show: "When Papa brings company home for the weekend, the girls and I step down to my father's house. If I want to have boyfriends, then I do it out of the country because it's easier."
Two London architects have tapped into the zeitgeist by designing a "divorced house", for other couples who want to separate but stay together. A prototype, by Cambridge University's Deborah Saunt and David Hills, is up and running in Brixton, and has a separate "duplex" apartment for each parent, and a walkway to allow access between the two areas.
Spice Girl Mel G has apparently come to a similar but more informal arrangement with her husband of eight months, dancer Jimmy Gulzar. When their marriage hit difficulties, they moved into separate wings of their mansion and a "fragile peace" has been restored.
After a disagreement over their son's schooling led to their marriage breaking up, the Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn and his wife Claudia Bracchitta had the same idea; they moved to a new house, divided it into two, and will continue to live together, for the sake of their three sons.
Some exes find that although breaking up is hard to do, staying friendly isn't, and get on ever better after a formal separation. Notting Hill star Julia Roberts is now so close to her former husband, Lyle Lovett, that she hopes he'll give her away if she gets married again. Butch Pearce, from Florida, did just that when his first wife, Sandy, remarried. Although they split up 14 years ago, they remained so friendly that Butch was also the best man at Sandy's recent wedding.
It's a totally practical solution to an age-old problem. But, of course, the real joy of this new trend is that the only people who lose out are the lawyers.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthdaybooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
- 5 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Fifty Shades of Grey movie: New picture of Anastasia Steele unveiled
Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
Cilla, ITV, review: Sheridan Smith embodies the young singer perfectly
Doctor Who, Listen, review: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode
Tyler, The Creator says having new U2 album automatically downloaded on his iPhone was 'like waking up with herpes'
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke