Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s Ambitious Co-Parenting Strategy

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Elise Solé
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Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck are divorcing. (Photo: Getty Images)

After news broke Tuesday that Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck were divorcing, fans got another surprise: The couple of 10 years reportedly plans to continue living together on the same property. 

“They don’t want this to be War of the Roses,” a source told Us Weekly. “They want it to be simple and this takes the drama out of it. It is important for them to keep this nice and efficient for the sake of their family.”

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The source added, “They’ve been married for a long time and tried to make it work for many years. They eventually realized this is the best thing to do for their family. They don’t want it to be contentious. A lot of people say that but they are doing things to ensure that it won’t be. There is a lot of love there, but they are doing what is best for everybody.“

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The parents of three — Violet, 9, Seraphina, 6, and Samuel, 3 — will live in separate houses on their Brentwood, Calif. property so they can effectively co-parent, and have even hired a mediator to expedite the divorce procedure amicably.  

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Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck with their three children. (Photo: SplashNews)

“This couple is taking a very sensitive and selfless approach to divorce,” Fran Walfish, PsyD, a psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, Calif., tells Yahoo Parenting. “Given their children’s young ages, it’s very helpful to present traumatic information incrementally.”

What’s more, adds Walfish, the couples’ use of a mediator in a divorce is almost unheard of. Instead of each party hiring opposing lawyers, a mediator is a neutral person who sits down with a couple and guides them toward a mutual agreement. “What Ben and Jen are saying is, ‘We don’t want to fight,’” says Walfish. Mediators are also often hired by people who can’t afford legal counsel, so it’s noteworthy that a wealthy celebrity couple is taking this approach.

Although Garner and Affleck’s cozy accommodations are likely temporary, they do carry one risk: “In divorce, most kids fantasize that their parents will reconcile and remarry,” says Walfish. “Living on the same property may fuel this fantasy, however in this case, it’s smarter to be cautious and separate slowly.”

Garner and Affleck seem to be taking a cue from a slew of friendly divorced couples — including Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, who announced their “conscious uncoupling” in March 2014 with a heartwarming joint statement, calling themselves “parents first and foremost.” The news broke while the two were vacationing together in the Bahamas with their children, Apple, 10 and Moses, 9. The family later took a trip together to Mexico and the Hamptons.

Then, during the Super Bowl in February, actress Bridget Moynahan, the ex-girlfriend of NFL player Tom Brady and mother of their 7-year-old son, tweeted support for her ex’s team, “Congratulations to the @Patriots! Sweet #4,” as Brady embraced his supermodel wife Gisele on the field. Monynahan and Gisele have also been photographed hugging during kid drop-offs and taking photos together during their children’s sports games. And in April, long-divorced couple Heather Locklear and Ritchie Sambora took their 17-year-old daughter on vacation to Bora Bora to “spend quality time together with Ava as a family.” Sambora has also said of the divorce, “We’re better friends now than ever. If you don’t get along you are messing the kid up. That’s what happens. So you have to put that before whatever s— is going on. Communication has got to come first. There’s a cooling off period obviously, as you know. It takes time.”

And while divorce (celebrity or not) can get nasty, being thoughtful is the key when there are kids involved. “Amicable divorces are about setting aside egos and putting children first,” says Walfish. “Couples who can do that are rock star parents.” 

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