From Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner to Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd, the business of breaking up in Hollywood is booming

Joe Jonas and Sophie Turne; Christine Costner and Kevin Costner; Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness


It’s been a very bad year for celebrity marriages.

So what’s with all the high-profile breakups? According to New York-based celebrity divorce lawyers Nancy Chemtob, from Chemtob Moss Forman & Beyda, and Brett Ward, the Chair of Blank Rome’s matrimonial practice, there are myriad reasons celebs — and non-famous people too — have been ending their marriages lately. “It’s almost contagious,” notes Chemtob.

Below, the two experts lay out what they think is really causing the recent spate of splits

The pandemic was a major factor

Brett Ward blames a lot of it on the pandemic. “What I think is happening is that during Covid, a lot of relationships that may have ended during that two-year period couldn’t because a lot of people were staying together out of necessity, out of needing to be protected, and the court system not being available to them,” he says.

“So what’s happening is that people are coming out of that, going back to work, going back to their regular lives, and now they have an out. I think there’s basically four years of divorce happening in two years.”

Chemtob agrees that the pandemic played a role in the rise of divorces, but she sees it more as a cause.

“My husband is the nicest man in the world, but during the pandemic even I was looking at him a little sideways,” she says with a laugh. “But I think Covid was the impetus for a lot of people reevaluating their lives, their finances, their longevity,” she says. “I think people just are at the point in their lives where they’re like, if I’m not happy, I’m out. If this person is not right for me any longer, then why keep trying? Why bother with therapy? Why all the hard lifting? People are realizing they can be on their own and still be happy.”

Celebrity marriages are naturally difficult

“When two celebrities marry each other, even if it’s varying degrees of celebrity, it’s a tremendous change for one of them,” says Ward. “Especially if there are children involved, and one person has to take a step back out of the limelight, which is very difficult … When you’re talking about major celebrities, one of them is often going to be on set, sometimes for weeks or months, which is a tremendous strain on the marriage — especially if one person is back home changing diapers.”

Chemtob adds that it can also be difficult for a star to be down-to-earth with their spouse after getting used to being treated like, well, a celebrity.

“When a celebrity gets to work, everyone is like, ‘What can I get for you, what can I do for you? Can I get a picture with you?” she says. “And then they go home to their spouse and are maybe like, ‘Hey, can you get me a glass of water?’ And the spouse is like, ‘You can get it yourself.’ That can be difficult for both people.”

Prenups simplify the process

“I would estimate that at least 90 percent of celebrities have prenups,” says Chemtob, noting that a huge amount of celebrity divorces occur within a five-year span. “So basically you’re in love, you have a whirlwind affair and get married and that whole thing, and then five years later it’s like, okay, I’m done with you and and I’m out. Here’s the prenuptial agreement, and you just comply with the terms with the prenup. It’s like a long date.” She adds, “Prenups make the breakup process easier. It’s like a roadmap for how to get divorced. The people involved have some certainty for how it’s going to play out.”

The stigma of divorce is gone

“These days, we know that being alone isn’t really that bad,” says Chemtob, who divorced once and has since remarried. “Women aren’t being judged for being divorced. A single woman is cool, not pitied.” She continues, “And with gay marriage legalized, gay people can get married and divorced, straight couples can, you can be a single parent, you can have babies without being married … there’s hopefully zero judgement.”

Ward wholly agrees. “Yes, I think the stigma is not there,” he says. “It’s not like it was where you had to ‘stick it out no matter whether you were happy or not.’ And I think it’s a generational thing. I don’t think that young people are afraid either to get divorced, or even to never get married in the first place.”

Vanilla divorces are a trend

Though some divorces still play out publicly — like Kevin and Christine Costner’s headline-making child support fight — long gone are the days where stars would publicly sling mud at each other. Ward would argue that “vanilla” or amicable divorces are much more the norm, usually occurring with the help of mediation, where everything is hashed out behind closed doors instead of in a messy public trial.

“I have way more cases where people are calling me saying, “He’s a good father, he’s been supportive, but I’m just not in love with him anymore,” he says. “What we’re returning to is the case of two people who have grown apart, who think that they could be happier and more fulfilled separately from each other.”

He adds that “vanilla divorces” are the dream for lawyers. “Listen, I am overjoyed when someone calls me and says, ‘We’re not going to have a custody fight. Let’s split the time with the kids.’ I have many mothers who are the breadwinners. They say, I’ll pay support. I want him to have a nice life, I want my kids to have a nice life with him, but I don’t love him anymore.”

Social media plays a role

Chemtob notes that people posting about being happier after divorce on TikTok or Instagram can certainly affect someone who’s been thinking about leaving their spouse. And if one celebrity couple seems to be doing just fine after their split, that can also inspire another duo to break up.

She adds that dating apps also play a big role in splits these days. “A lot of people get divorced because they’ve seen their spouse on a dating app,” she says. “They’ll claim that they were bored and just looking, but they’re definitely swiping right or left to see what’s out there, just in case.”

Ward warns about another problematic side of social media. “Social media dominates trials in divorce cases: what people are posting, where they’re posting from, with whom they’re posting,” he says.

He continues, “We put forth an image to the public — which sometimes really isn’t in touch with reality — but that is used in court quite often. A father might say, ‘I can’t afford this,’ and then you can say, ‘Well, here’s the picture of him and his girlfriend in Greece at the $1000 a night hotel.’ Our private lives are now public information, and in terms of how social media evidence that can be used in these proceedings, the landscape has changed tremendously.”