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.
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
Arts & Ents blogs
The desolation of the Weinstein brothers: Film producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
Christmas songs: the best and the worst
X Factor winners: Where are they now?
Your Money, Money, Money please - Abba ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
Lost Peter Sellers films Dearth of a Salesman and Insomnia Is Good for You hailed as the movie equivalent of 'finding Dead Sea Scrolls'
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Is Facebook making us forget? Study shows that taking pictures ruin memories
- 5 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding