How to divorce: Tips for Brad and Angelina or any couple calling it quits

Because there's nothing like free divorce advice - even if you're Brangelina. Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are getting a divorce, proving — like countless Hollywood power couples before them — they’re just like us. So the free advice we’re about to dish out applies not just to them, but anyone considering pulling the plug on a relationship.

First off, the odds of making a go of it were stacked against the pair in many ways. The most notable, of course, being that Brangelina was born out of an affair. Team Aniston clearly still hasn’t let that one go.

People who leave their spouse to marry their lover are 75 per cent likely to divorce, according to psychiatrist Frank Pittman.

Relationship therapist Jessica O’Reilly can’t vouch for the stat, but she does acknowledge a second marriage (which it was for both stars) does have a higher divorce rate.

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It’s 60-some per cent compared to just over 40 per cent for a first marriage. The divorce rate on third-time unions is 73 per cent.

Wide gaps in age can also contribute to marital strife. In Brad and Angie’s case, there was an 11-year difference. Statistically speaking, that amounts to a roughly 40 per cent risk of breaking up (versus three per cent if your birthdays are just a year apart, and 18 per cent for five-year gaps)

Good luck if you’re born two decades apart. Research shows you only have a five per cent chance of success.

READ MORE: The sweet spot age for getting married and most common times to get divorced 

The stats in the pair’s favour were that they didn’t seem to spend too much on their wedding a couple years ago — that’s said to be one of the predictors of divorce. And that they have (a lot of) kids, who often helps keep couples together.

WATCH: Why we are we so invested in celebrity couples and devastated when they split?

Click to play video: 'Brangelina: Why do we care so much when celebrity couples split?'
Brangelina: Why do we care so much when celebrity couples split?

Parenting concerns have been raised as a possible reason for the split. But Brangelina’s big brood of six (along with any divorcing couple’s children) could benefit from the few pointers below.

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1. What to say (and not say) to the kids

Divorce coach Deborah Moskovitch agrees that how the parents treat each other during this time will determine how well the kids cope.

“They don’t want to see mom and dad treating each other poorly,” she said.

WATCH: Staying together for the kids isn’t always a good thing

One of the worst things Direnfeld believes parents can do is use their children as messengers. Not only can it put the weight of your disintegrating marriage on their shoulders, it’s also totally unfair.

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“They’re just kids. They’re not going to remember half the stuff,” Direnfeld pointed out.

Divorce coach Deborah Moskovitch said last year there are a few key points parents should stress to their children.

They should be told:

  • They’re loved and will always have two parents
  • The divorce is not their fault
  • Life will be OK

Kids will crave stability in this time of instability. They’ll likely wonder how their life will be impacted, including whether they’ll get to live in their home and go to the same school.

Bouts of depression and anxiety can pop up, as well. Investing in a family therapist during this time may be a better use of your money than lawyer fees.

2. ‘Good’ divorces are possible

Try to keep things civil. Break-ups can be a positive thing.

The “conscious uncoupling” of Pitt’s ex Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin is just one example of amicable divorces.

O’Reilly has seen many others, even in her own family. When her parents divorced during her teens, she “never had to choose between her parents.”

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The whole family still spends Christmas and Easter together.

That seemed to be the goal for a Calgary couple last year, when they posted a “divorce selfie” last summer. The caption announced they were able to end their marriage “respectfully, thoughtfully and honourably” and would “go forward as parenting partners for their children.

“They’ll never have to wonder which side of the auditorium to run to after their Christmas concert or spring play, because we’ll be sitting together.”

WATCH: Calgary couple’s divorce selfie goes viral

3. Don’t forget about the grandparents

Rumour has it that Jolie wants sole custody of the kids. Based on a Belgian researcher’s findings, that doesn’t bode well for Pitt’s parents.

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It’s been found that when kids reside with just their mother following a split, 10 per cent of kids never see their paternal grandparents. When parents share custody of the kids, the paternal grandparents are more likely to be involved.

A follow-up study that’s in the works suggests children who have a good relationship with grandparents report higher self-esteem and feelings of being in control of their lives. Those relationships particularly matter for kids whose parents are divorced.

WATCH: How divorce can impact grandparents 

4. Keep emotions (and finances) in check

While Brad and Angelina — with their estimated $400 million net worth — don’t really have to worry about the financial hit of a marriage break-up, they’re in the minority.

Divorce can be super costly and there are all sorts of bank matters to consider, including closing joint bank accounts and transferring deeds.

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The best advice from the experts when it comes to money matters?

“Don’t make decision with emotions, make them with facts,” said Sharon Numerow, a certified divorce financial analyst.

And if you don’t want to lose all your money to lawyers, try to work it out yourselves.

— With files from Laurel Gregory, Global News


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