When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin revealed that they had separated in 2014, call the world a little startled to learn that the consciously uncoupled pair were riding out the carefully timed announcement—delivered via GP’s goop newsletter, naturally—together in the Bahamas with their two children.
How civilized, right?!
They were hardly the first exes to be spotted in bathing suits together post-split, but their amicable getaway seemed to inspire a new way to be the bearer of bad news—the equivalent of holding up a big sign for the cameras that says “NOTHING TO SEE HERE, WE’RE FINE.”
Not that the aftermath of a divorce is simply all sunshine and organically sourced cocktails.
Jennifer Garner, who along with Ben Affleck and their three kids jetted straight to the Bahamas as news that their marriage was ending made the rounds, has been frank about how she put her children first from the get-go and let the healing process follow.
“The main thing is these kids—and we’re completely in line with what we hope for them,” Garner recounted in Vanity Fair‘s February 2016 issue. “Sure, I lost the dream of dancing with my husband at my daughter’s wedding. But you should see their faces when he walks through the door. And if you see your kids love someone so purely and wholly, then you’re going to be friends with that person.”
And sometimes that door opens into a villa in Baker’s Bay because it’s summer and the kids are out of school and you owe it to us, Ben…
But while vacationing with an ex may not be for everybody (mom and dad spending time with the kids separately for the health of everyone’s psyche is nothing to be ashamed of), there are some key rules these intrepid celebrity exes tend to follow when it’s time for a little R&R as a family.
Timing Is Everything: Since arguments are almost unavoidable while traveling even in the most ideal of circumstances, there’s no need to rush into closer quarters while you’re still fighting or otherwise figuring out the details of just how this whole brave-front-for-the-kids thing is going to work. When Ben and Jen finally announced that they were ending their marriage, they had already been separated for months and were well-versed in spending days with their children and going their separate ways (Jen to the main house and Ben to the guest house) at night.
Even Chris and Gwyneth, though they set the bar high for amiable exes who’d follow in their wake, didn’t have it all figured out right away.
“It was a very intense time for our family,” Paltrow recalled two years later on Today. “Emotions were very high and deep and all over the place.”
Location, Location, Location: If emotions are going to be all over the place anyway, they may as well be somewhere awesome. In tenuous times (or in any times, really), famous families don’t go to pedestrian locales to regroup.
The Bahamas, being not too far away from the continental U.S., is obviously a popular destination, as is the Hawaiian island of Maui, which is where Hilary Duff and Mike Comrie divorce-mooned last year with their son, Luca.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is also super convenient for L.A.-based celebs, whether they want a quick weekend away or a longer stay, and it’s where Paltrow and Martin took Moses and Apple for spring break in 2015.
Despite the stroll-on-the-beach moments, Paltrow insisted last year that Martin is “like my brother. I’m really close to him. We’re a family. Even though we’re not in a romantic relationship, we’re a true family and we like to do things to reinforce that we’re a family for the children [and] for each other.”
And though celebs are famous for going where it’s warm in the winter, snow-centric vacays are always a crowd pleaser, too, and ritzy Aspen is a popular destination among the jet set. Heidi Klumand Seal, her ex-husband of now five years (though only officially divorced for a few) brought their four children to the Colorado resort town for this past winter holiday season—reportedly the first time Seal had joined in on the annual tradition since the split, though he and Klum have frequently been spotted out with the kids in the L.A. area over the years.
“You always make it work [for the kids]. You just do,” Klum told Entertainment Tonight in February, acknowledging that it hasn’t always been easy for her and Seal, whom she renewed her vows with every year on their anniversary until they split up in 2012.
Where the Air Is Sweet: Celebs aren’t piling their kids in the car and road-tripping to Reno. Nor are they flying commercial, for that matter.
Like weekend trips to IKEA, nothing spells F-I-G-H-T more than the hassles of commercial air travel for five. Not to mention, it’s barely possible to sneak out of town as a cohesive unit on a private flight, let alone a regular one, which makes a private jet pretty much the only option if you actually want privacy.
We credit elite air travel as one of the main reasons why Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick, two of the most prolific travelers among the celebrity-ex set, manage to maintain their sanity. And if exes do bicker after take-off…well, that’s what NDAs are for.
The More the Merrier: It may look as if the exes are going it alone with the kids but, like at home, there’s often a nanny, assistant or non-famous friend just out of the frame.
Duff and Comrie, for instance, enjoyed surf and sand and the company of a group, including Mike’s brother Ty Comrie, when they were in Maui a week after signing their divorce papers.
A post shared by Kourtney Kardashian (@kourtneykardash) on Jul 21, 2016 at 5:18pm PDT
Kourtney and Scott are often in the company of other Kardashians, but when they’re not, a small entourage of friends and/or employees is usually along anyway for both good times and to watch their three children on jaunts to Cabo, Aspen and, most recently, Nantucket.
With lots to hash out on any given day, sometimes the longtime partners turned co-parents steal away for a dinner date, or 2-year-old Reignneeds a sitter when they do big-kid activities with Penelope, 5, and Mason, 7.
“By the way, everyone relax,” Kourtney said in a Snapchat video earlier this year while riding in the backseat of a car alongside Scott. “People that have three kids together spend time together.” “No!” Scott chimed in, feigning shock.
Third & Fourth Wheels Allowed: At some point down the road, there may be new significant others involved and, in a perfect world, everyone gets along.
“We said, ‘We need to try to create something for the kids where they feel like they’re gaining something rather than losing something,'” Hudson said in the November 2015 issue of Allure. “It’s been a seamless transition. Kids just want to see their parents be cool. Everybody’s cool; everybody’s good.”
Demi Moore and Bruce Willis famously remained friendly after their divorce and would often reunite with their three daughters. Each attended the other’s wedding when they remarried: Willis was in attendance when Moore tied the knot with Ashton Kutcherat their Beverly Hills home—and the favor was returned when Moore and Kutcher attended Willis and Emma Heming‘s destination wedding (whoo, vacation excuse!) at Parrot Cay, a private Caribbean island resort that’s part of Turks and Caicos.
“I never had to split up vacations or split up birthdays,” Rumer Willis said on Larry King Now in 2015. Her mom and dad “always made an effort to do all of the family events still together and made such an effort to still have our family be as one unit, as opposed to two separate things, which I think really made an impact.”
Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee Simmons famously remained close after their marriage ended in 2006 (their divorce was a leisurely affair, too, not being finalized until 2009). The Def Jam co-founder, his ex and their two daughters, Ming and Aoki, made annual family trips to St. Barts, even when Kimora was dating Djimon Hounsou, the father of her third child, or when she quietly married Tim Leissner in 2013.
As evidenced above, having a massive yacht to hold court from doesn’t hurt. It’s almost impossible to get angry on a yacht. (Why else would Leonardo DiCaprio always be on one?!)
Don’t Skimp on the Luxury: Meanwhile, it can’t be emphasized enough that accommodations are key. Just as they need space emotionally and existentially, exes need plenty of physical space, whether they’ve been separated for 10 days or 10 years.
Luckily that’s rarely a problem for the rich and famous, unless the family has opted to rough it in an RV (and we’ve yet to come across that when it comes to celeb exes).
Ben and Jen checked into some presumably spacious digs in Baker’s Bay on the Bahamian isle of Great Guana Cay, accessible only by boat, sea plane or helicopter. The amenities of the illustrious Golf & Ocean Club are theoretically reserved for property-owning members only, but moneyed folk can get their hands on a house for shorter term stays.
Val Malone/WireImage.com; HomeAway.com.
Gwyneth and Chris, meanwhile, hunkered down on the isle of Eleuthera in a $1,500-per-night (or $10,500 for the week) beachfront rental property.
Kourtney and Scott stayed in a $50 million Nantucket home (Airbnb: $6,628 a night; celebrity discount: complimentary) in the obviously very nice Pocomo area when they summered there last year—enjoying the photogenically quaint but well-heeled island town so much, they returned last month.
Stay Busy: That isn’t too difficult when you’ve got kids, but still, activities for all—especially sporty ones—are a great way to keep endorphin levels high and ensure that everyone’s exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep when it’s time to turn in.
Hence the popularity of the beach—swimming, surfing, snorkeling, jet-skiing, horseback riding, hiking and just sun in general will tire a family out. Same goes for skiing, snowboarding, sledding and oh-so-therapeutic snowball fights when it’s cold out.
Of course, regardless of where the plane touches down or where they stay, the kids can’t help but appreciate (or they will one day) that Mom and Dad still take them places together, be it hard or surprisingly easy or somewhere in between.
The accountants can compute the sums later. Every memory is priceless in the meantime.