This year saw its share of high-wattage celebrity break ups. We watched Jon and Kate disband their eight, Rosie and Kelly secretly divide and multiply, and long-time couples like Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins shock us by going their separate ways. Just this past month the prognosticators were stunned when it was announced that Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes are divorcing. While the media focuses its looming lens on the romantic escapades of these stars, little attention is given to the under-age casualties of marital discord: the kids. What happens to them when their famous parents sunder? We peeked behind the curtain of 10 high profile celebrity divorces to ascertain how the children are likely to be affected by the split. – Jill Brooke
John & Elizabeth Edwards – married 32 years
The kids: Cate, 27; Emma Claire, 11; Jake, 9; Frances Quinn, almost 2
Behind the breakup: John’s infidelity and his recent paternity suit – oh, and all the lies and cover-ups.
The latest: John ‘fessed up to being the daddy of his mistress’ baby, and the couple is legally separated. Two new books, The Politician and The Game Changer, reveal more ugly business than anyone can keep track of. And now Rielle Hunter has given a kiss-and-tell interview to GQ.
The prognosis: Not good.
Why: The Edwards’ kids have certainly been dealt a difficult hand. They lost their brother in 1996, they faced their mom’s cancer diagnosis (and recurrence) and they’ve endured their dad’s protracted infidelity and paternity debacle – not to mention dealing with the regular stressors of political family life, including an aborted presidential run. Being able to trust will be a challenge in their lives. Some rays of sunshine include financial stability, a rock in their Aunt Nancy and their mother finally seeing the light and dumping John.
The wild card: We hate to say it, but one day in the future, we might see a reunion and even a marriage between Rielle and John. This would make the mistress the stepmother and present a host of new challenges, to say the least.
Rosie O’Donnell & Kelli Carpenter – married 5 years (together for 12)
The kids: Parker, 14; Chelsea, 12; Blake, 10; and Vivienne, 7
Behind the break up: We don’t have all the details, but, according to Rosie, both she and Kelly “were both missing out on a lot of joy,” and things got rocky after Rosie left her talk show and became a stay-at-home mom. What we do know, however, is that the couple tried their best to make a go of it, but when they couldn’t, eased into their split slowly and privately. It wasn’t until two years after Kelly moved out that the break up became public.
The latest: Rosie has a new girlfriend, Tracey Katchek-Anders, who is also an adoptive mom with six (yes, six!) kids of her own, ranging from 6-18 years old. The couple looks like they’re getting ready to shack up and become what Rosie calls “The Gay-dy bunch.” Rosie has also negotiated a deal to host a new daytime talk show that will allow her to be in one place while she supports a very large family.
The prognosis: Good to very good.
Why: There’s a lot of love and devotion in the O’Donnell/ Kelly household(s), creating a win-win for Rosie’s four kids (and possibly her six new step-kids). While two of the kids are in the 11-14 year “more-difficult-than-divorce” range, there’s safety in numbers, and the kids have each other to rely on for comfort and support if the going gets tough. Rosie has also made it clear that having a solid family is her personal mission. Her new film shows that it’s her public passion as well.
The wild card: If Rosie moves in with Tracey, the ten kids could spread Rosie too thin. Each child needs time to feel special.
Kate Winslet & Sam Mendes – married 7 years
The kids: Mia 9; Joe, 6
Behind the breakup: The reasons aren’t clear; neither party has been linked to anyone yet.
The latest: They released a statement hoping for an amicable separation and promised to be devoted to the children.
The prognosis: Excellent
Why? After seven years of marriage, the couple has already shown that they can function in a blended family. Winslet had her daughter, Mia, with previous husband, director Jim Threapleton (whom she divorced in 2001). She then had her son, Joe, with Mendes, and by all accounts, they functioned as a close, loving family.
The wild card: Because Mia was not adopted by Mendes, will visitation include both children or just Joe? Hopefully Mendes will continue his relationship with Mia, who has known him since she was 2.
Susan Sarandon & Tim Robbins – together 21 years
The kids: Eva, 25 (from previous relationship); Jack, 21; Miles, 18
Behind the break up: Persistent yet unconfirmed rumors place the blame on Susan for going with a younger man. Tim so far doesn’t seem to be with anyone new.
The latest: The kids seem to have adjusted to the new arrangement, and Tim and Susan are co-parenting amicably.
The prognosis: Excellent
Why? Both of them make family a priority. Throughout their careers, they were present for family meals and sports and school events. (Sarandon even refused to take roles that kept her away too long from the family.) Plus, the kids are older now, and it’s less traumatic in their daily lives to ping pong between two households.
The wild card: It’s always a bit, well, weird for a child when their parent’s significant other is very close to their age. Susan Sarandon is reportedly dating 31-year-old Jonathan Bricklin, who is only six years older than her daughter.
Charlie Sheen & Denise Richards – married 4 years
The kids: Sam, 5; Lola, 4; Max and Bob, 1 (with Brooke Mueller)
Behind the break up: Apparently, the straw that broke this marriage’s back was when Charlie accused Denise of “poisoning” their daughter Sam by giving her a vaccination. That – and his penchant for prostitutes and angry outbursts.
The latest: At Christmas, Sheen was arrested for domestic violence against his newest wife, Brooke Mueller, mother to his twins, Max and Bob.
The prognosis: Not Good.
Why? Where do we begin? Having been involved in drugs, domestic violence and several visits to rehab, Sheen is not exactly a model citizen. Their break-up was ugly, Richardson’s reality show that followed was even uglier, and now Charlie is behaving badly in his new marriage (with his wife most recently released from the hospital only to be admitted to rehab!). Plus, in last year’s Christmas card, his girls with Denise are clearly absent. It’s as if they were photo-shopped out of his life.
The wild card: The kids’ young age could be a saving grace if Charlie can get his act together.
Uma Thurman & Ethan Hawke – married 5 years, estranged for 2
The kids: Maya,11; Levon, 8
Behind the break up: Rumors swirled that it was Ethan’s affair that finally broke up this union, but both parties have gone on record to say, “We wish it was that simple.” Uma fessed up on Oprah there was “betrayal at the end,” but she took fair share of responsibility for the failure of her marriage. Both parents also seemed heartbroken over the split, despite animosity simmering beneath the surface.
The latest: Uma broke up with her fianc’, Arki Busson, because he lives in London and the law doesn’t allow parents to move their kids to another country without the other parent’s consent. Traveling back and forth took its toll on their relationship. Hawke married their former nanny, Ryan Shawhughes, and they now have a little girl, Clementine, 21 months.
The prognosis: Good
Why? Uma and Ethan live down the street from each other, and both juggle work and parenting equally. Whether or not Uma’s relationship with billionaire Arki Busson is on or off, we do know she made a decision not to move to be with him because of her kids. This shows where her priorities lie. It’s also clear through her other romantic relationships (including hotelier Andre Belazs) that Uma puts kids above work and romantic love. Ethan too lives a quiet life and is often seen hanging out with the kids, playing guitar and going to their sports games.
The wild card: Uma’s children may not bond as well with Ryan knowing that she was the nanny.
Kimora Lee and Russell Simmons – married 8 years
The kids: Ming Lee, 9; Aoki Lee, 7
Behind the break up: Because life is all about Kimora, the fashion diva and the music mogul had a turbulent relationship from the beginning.
The latest: Kimora and her longtime boyfriend Djimon Honsou recently had a baby, Kenzo, in June of ’09, and the glowing threesome graced the cover of February’s Ebony Magazine. Russell Simmons is in a steady relationship with model Porschla Coleman.
The prognosis: Good
Why? The melodrama in the Lee/Simmons family seems to be behind them. The divorce settlement was recently finalized, awarding Lee sole custody and a generous child-support settlement. Despite rumors that Simmons fought the settlement, he claims that “nothing was ordered, it was given” and he’s very happy to contribute to his daughters’ lavish lifestyle. Also, whatever their personal animosity, Lee and Simmons’ professional relationship remains intact, continuing to work together on their successful Baby Phat fashion line. This consistency bodes well for the kids.
The wild card: How will Kimora’s new baby affect the way she treats her daughters? Hopefully she won’t be like Charlie Sheen, and the girls will remain in the picture (and the Christmas card!).
Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman – married almost 10 years
The kids: Isabella Jane, 17; Connor, 14; Suri, 3 (Tom’s daughter with Katie Holmes); Sunday, 1 (Nicole’s daughter with Keith Urban)
Behind the break up: Kidman swears the marriage was “real” (not a Scientology sham) and that for her it ultimately came down to couple or career. The PR line is that her career won out and the couple fell out of love, but we guess that pressures from the Church were at work.
The latest: Tom’s got Katie plus Suri, and Nicole has Keith and her baby girl, Sunday. Isabella and Connor live with Tom in L.A. and supposedly call Katie “Mom.” Nicole claims she’ll be buying a place in L.A. to be closer to the kids. And, yes, the kids are being raised as Scientologists. So far Nicole is seen more in Tennessee.
The prognosis: Okay
Why? It must be painful for Connor and Isabella to have only a part-time mom, but fortunately they have other supportive family members in their lives, including Tom’s mother. Kidman is at a point in her life where she doesn’t have to prove herself by piling up more film credits and awards and is spending more time in domestic bliss with Sunday and Keith Urban, but it’s never ideal when parents live far away from the children. Sunday will benefit from having two loving parents whom are married and dote on her.
The wild card: In a dream world, little Sunday and Suri could someday become friends, and Connor and Isabella could write a tell-all about how religion created a wedge between their parents!
Jon & Kate Gosselin – married 10 years
The kids: Cara and Madelyn, 9; Alexis, Hannah, Aaeden, Colin, Leah and Joel, 6
Behind the break up: The fame of Jon & Kate Plus 8 suddenly made two nobodies somebodies. Apparently it was too much for the relationship.
The latest: Jon called off the show while his divorce from Kate Gosselin was in process. Now they’re divorced and actively single. Kate is currently competing on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.
The prognosis: Not good
Why? The parents seem more interested in their own lives than their children’s – a recipe for disaster.
The wild card: Neither one is likely to remain in the public eye for long, and once their stars dim, hopefully at least one of them will shuffle into line and not side-step their parental responsibilities.
Madonna & Guy Ritchie – married 9 years
The kids: Lourdes, 14 (from previous relationship with Carlos Leon); Rocco, 9; David, 5; Mercy, 3
Behind the break up: Guy Ritchie didn’t want more children, and Madonna was hell-bent on adopting. When one member of a couple always wants to get her or his way, it’s never conducive to long-term success.
The Latest: Madonna adopted another little girl, Mercy, on her own.
The prognosis: Good
Why? Although family life is complicated, Madonna is a loving parent who’s devoted to her children. It will be tough for her adopted children, however, as they don’t have a paternal figure. Rocco at least gets to spend part of his time with Guy in London, and Lourdes sees her dad Carlos in New York.
The wild card: Rocco may want to leave Madonna and live with his dad instead, which would impact sibling relationships.
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