TIME celebrities

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Split Up

People broke the news

Bennifer is no more, People magazine has exclusively learned.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced their divorce Tuesday, just one day after their 10-year anniversary. “After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce,” the power couple told People in a statement.

Affleck and Garner met on the set of the film Daredevil in 2003, and now have three kids: Violet, 9, Serafina, 6, and Samuel, 3. The Oscar-winning actor and director famously raised eyebrows in 2013 when he described his marriage as “work” when accepting the Best Picture Oscar for Argo.

Read more at People.com

MONEY Debt

What Happens to My Debt If I Get a Divorce?

stack of bills sliced in half
John Kuczala—Getty Images

Just like your marital assets, debt gets divvied up too.

While you might have known that marital assets are separated during divorce, did you know that debts are as well? Yes, debt, just like any other possession, has to be divvied up and re-distributed during divorce. Unfortunately, this can make an already difficult process even more stressful. However, understanding how your debts might be split before entering your proceedings could help you better plan for your new life and give you peace of mind. Here is an easy-to-understand breakdown of what happens to your debt during a divorce.

Credit Card Debt

The responsibility of credit card debt during divorce tends to be decided by whether or not the credit card was under a joint or single account. While the rules on joint accounts vary from state to state, most cases consider marital debt to be any debt accumulated during the partnership, regardless of whose name appears on the account. This means you’ll most likely be considered partially responsible for debt on the account, whether or not you were the one to make the payment. Separate accounts, however, are just that — separate. Whomever’s name appears on the account will, more often than not, be awarded full responsibility.

Mortgage

Here’s where things get a little complicated. The division of a mortgage isn’t as straightforward as credit card debt during divorce. Because a mortgage is typically such a monumental expense, most states offer a variety of options for dealing with the situation. Ownership of the mortgage will typically be awarded to someone who makes significantly more than their former spouse or has been awarded full custody of the former couple’s children. In either of these situations, one party will be required to buy out the other’s equity in the house. Of course, the couple can decide to bypass all of these decisions and simply sell the home if they so choose.

Medical Expenses

Depending upon where you live, your state might have a different view on whether or not you and your former spouse share medical debts. “Community Property” states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) all debt will typically be divided amongst all parties. While this might greatly simplify the process, it leaves you open to taking on debt that you had no part in acquiring. In “equal division property” states however, the court will take a variety of factors into consideration when determining the responsibility of medical debt. This will usually include whether or not you and your spouse were living together at the time the debt was acquired, whether or not you were legally separated at the time, whether or not the debt falls under the umbrella of “necessary care,” and what impact that debt might have on any children you and your former spouse might have had.

While divorce is far from an easy process, knowing how it might affect your financial situation can really help you reduce the stress and handle other expenses it brings. Take the time to sit down and look through all your financial documents: bills, credit statements, loan papers, etc. Pull your free annual credit reports to see what accounts are reported in your name, and periodically revisit them to watch for important changes. Creating a financial snapshot can help your and your attorneys determine the best course of action for you and your family.

Read next: Can a Debt Collector Come After Me If I Never Got a Bill?

More From Credit.com:

MONEY College

How Can I Make Sure My Ex Pays Her Share of Our Kids’ College Costs?

split cake and cake toppers
Jeffrey Hamilton—Getty Images

Failure to take immediate action is risky.

Q. I’ve had an ugly divorce and I think my wife will refuse to pay her part of college costs for our kids. The oldest kid starts in September, and I can’t afford to pay the whole thing. I’m also not sure I want to go through another fight and go back to court. Plus, I can’t really afford an attorney again. What are my options?

A. What you need to do is act quickly.

Failure to take immediate action may be interpreted by the court, in the future, as you having waived your right — and your child’s right — to seek financial contribution from your ex-wife toward the satisfaction of your child’s college costs and expenses, said Kenneth White, a divorce attorney with Shane and White in Edison, N.J..

White said for starters, he makes it a point never to convince anyone that they need an attorney to appear in Family Court, and nearly 50% of those who appear before the court in New Jersey do it without an attorney. (And while this is specific to New Jersey, no matter where you live, it’s important to find out what the rules and deadlines are so that you can advocate for your child.)

Whether to hire an attorney or not often rests upon just how comfortable the non-attorney individual is appearing before a judge, coupled with how competent that individual is. However, you often only get one chance to correctly present an issue before the Family Court, he said.

“After the fact, if you did something wrong or otherwise failed to raise a specific point it will be 10 times harder and more costly for an attorney to try to undo something you did wrong and that attorney, after the fact, may not be able to undo something done wrong,” White said.

So back to acting quickly.

Specifically, White said, there is case law in New Jersey allows a judge to deny an application by one party against his/her ex-spouse for contribution toward the satisfaction of their child’s college costs and expenses if that application is made after the actual costs and expenses were incurred.

“Therefore, it is essential that you file your application with the court to compel your ex-wife to contribute to the satisfaction of your child’s college costs and expenses before the same are incurred — this fall,” White said.

He said another reason to file your application sooner rather than later is that it will likely protect you from many additional defenses that your ex-wife could raise.

“For example, she will be unable to claim that she was unaware and otherwise kept in the dark about your child’s intentions, such as wanting to attend college and where, and perhaps that she was denied an opportunity to have a say in the matter,” he said.

Moving sooner will allow everyone involved — your ex-spouse, you and your child — to look at all the relevant financial considerations, such as if it’s practical for your child to attend his/her first choice of college, he said.

Unlike divorce litigation that can take a year or perhaps longer depending upon what county your case was heard in, White said a post-judgment application to address an issue such as satisfaction of college costs and expenses may be filed, argued and resolved by the court in as quick as a 24-day cycle. Post-judgment motions must be filed 24 days before the return date, i.e. the date the judge is to have a hearing regarding the issue. Therefore, White said, you shouldn’t be intimidated by the potential of additional litigation because it will not be as complex as your entire divorce was.

“Unfortunately, absent confirming an amicable resolution directly with your ex-wife, your only option is to file an application with the court as soon as possible,” he said. “Alternatively, you — and more importantly, your child — may lose the opportunity to have your child secure a college education that he/she may be entitled to.”

So you should consider consulting with an attorney who can review all the circumstances of your case and offer you an opinion, even if it’s just a consultation.

More from Credit.com:

TIME

Texas Supreme Court Upholds a Same-Sex Divorce

Even though state does not recognize same-sex marriage

Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage, but its Supreme Court upheld a same-sex divorce on Friday.

The 5-3 decision ruled against the state of Texas, which had argued that the divorce granted to Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly by a district court would “implicitly recognize” the existence of same-sex marriage. Justice Jeffrey Brown wrote against the claims in the court opinion on the grounds that the State lacked standing to intervene in the divorce.

Naylor and Daly were married in Massachusetts in 2004, and then moved to Travis County in Texas where they filed for divorce in 2010. Aware of the legal complications of divorcing in a state that does not allow same-sex marriage, a district court granted the couple “a valid and subsisting divorce.” The next day, the state appealed the decision in order “to defend the constitutionality of Texas and federal laws,” which only grant divorce to married people of opposite sexes.

Today, the court denied the State has standing to appeal, since Texas was not a party of record in the divorce and did not protest it on time. “The record reveals that the State, while fully aware of the public import of this private dispute, had adequate opportunity to intervene and simply failed to diligently assert its rights,” Brown wrote in his ruling. “This is not a case in which the State was unaware of the litigation or blindsided by the result.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott was the state’s attorney general when Texas petitioned the divorce. In a Friday statement Abbot responded to the ruling,”The Texas Supreme Court’s decision is disappointing and legally incorrect. The Court mistakenly relied on a technicality to allow this divorce to proceed. “

TIME Marriage

Why Remarrying Isn’t What it Used To Be

elderly-couple-holding-hands
Getty Images

Fewer people are retying the knot, especially women.

If you’re wondering whether you should get married again, you’re not alone. About 40% of all the two million odd marriages that took place in 2013 were remarriages either for the bride or the groom. About 20% of them were remarriages for both.

Divorce remains a deeply unpleasant process, but not as hard to do as it was. And marriage—for all its flaws—is still a very popular institution. So it makes sense that a lot of people figure they’ll give it another go. The triumph of hope over experience and all that.

But second (and third and so on) marriages are not what they were. According to a new brief written by Wendy Manning for the Council on Contemporary Families, here are some ways retying the knot is changing.

*Remarriage rates are falling. In 1990, 50 out of every 1,000 previously-married men and women got married again. In 2013, it was 28, a 40% drop.

*Much of that drop has been among women. In 1995, 54% of women who divorced before age 45 had remarried within five years. In 2005, only 38% had.

*Men are more likely to remarry. The rate is almost twice as high for men as for women (40 per 1,000 vs. 21 per 1,000)

*There aren’t always just two. Among remarrying couples, 46% already have a child under 18 living in the home. (Then again, 38% of couples who marry for the first time already have a child in the home)

*If there are kids, they’re usually hers. Only 9% of remarried stepmoms are living with their stepkids, while 46% of remarried stepdads have their wife’s kids in the home. The good news is that more people with stepkids report a happier marriage than those who don’t, a switch from prior years.

*Remarriages, which have always had a higher implosion rate than first marriages, have become even less stable over the past 20 years. By 2010, almost a third of remarriages (31%) of women under 45 ended in divorce within five years. In 1995, that figure was 23%. (About 20% of first marriages don’t make it to their fifth anniversary.)

*Finding a new spouse takes a little longer. Half of the folks who remarry do so within four years. In 2002 it was three years.

Some of this is slightly disheartening for those who wish to marry again, but never fear, the decision can pay off. “Remarriages confer at least some of the same health benefits as first marriages,” says the report. And in any case, studies have shown that about 100% of every newly married couple thinks their love is going to last forever.

MONEY

Don’t Let the Cost of a Haircut Ruin Your Relationship

Haircut
Alamy

Never mess with the hair budget.

Here’s a little marital tip: When financial experts say couples should compromise on absolutely everything, there are times when you just need to split hairs.

For instance, just try to tell your spouse how much he or she should spend on getting their hair done.

Guaranteed nuclear war.

I asked my social media followers about the way couples should handle the significant costs of getting one’s hair done, and the reaction was fiery.

A sampler: “There are some things you don’t share with your spouse, and hair cost is one of them.”

“It costs to look this good … and no, hubby doesn’t need to know, nor does he ask.”

“Smart husbands don’t mess with the hair-doing budget.”

“Two things men should only address if they have something good to say: hair and weight.”

Haircare, in particular, seems to be an intensely personal subject for couples. Throw money concerns into the mix, and it can lead to the financial equivalent of a really bad hair day. Indeed, financial arguments are by far the No. 1 one predictor of divorce, according to research by Sonya Britt, a professor at Kansas State University.

There is no doubt the costs of haircare can add up, and quickly. U.S. spending on hair services in 2014 amounted to a record $46 billion, estimates Parsippany, New Jersey-based consulting firm Kline & Co.

The average salon client drops $67.17 per visit for hair services, according to American Salon’s Green Book industry report. That’s a repeated cost, of course, with men going to a stylist 11.2 times a year on average, and women dropping in 12.9 times annually.

“As a woman you grow up feeling like expensive hair treatments are mandatory, almost like you’re being shamed into it,” says Dr. Phoenyx Austin, a fitness expert in Washington and author of “If You Love It, It Will Grow” and the children’s book “Love Your Hair.”

“You don’t want someone telling you you’re spending too much money. It’s a very touchy subject.”

That said, Austin says the final tab can easily get “out of hand,” when you are combining pricey appointments with expensive take-home products. She knows of women who spend up to $1,500 a month on their hair.

Elaborate Procedures

Costs can disproportionately affect minority communities, where haircare procedures tend to be more elaborate. The average cost of getting extensions or weaves, according to the Green Book: A whopping $487.25 every time, up $137.29 in a single year.

Austin, who is African-American, went for a more natural look years ago, which saves a ton of money on processes like chemical straightening. But if times are tight and there is room for your family’s salon budget to be cut back, she advises that you look in the mirror first.

“The worst thing is to come at your spouse complaining about a salon bill, when you’re shelling out lots of money on other stuff,” she says.

“Make sure to frame the discussion that any cutbacks will go into family savings, or to your kids’ college. That’s a good way to massage it into the conversation.”

Samantha McGarry once went into battle on the subject, and the skirmish was brief and decisive.

“At one point, my husband said something about the cost of getting my hair done,” says the 47-year-old public relations executive from Framingham, Massachusetts. “So we had a little conversation, and now he knows to focus on other areas.”

If times got really tough, McGarry would find room to trim spending and try more do-it-yourself coloring jobs. Truth be told, McGarry doesn’t spend crazy amounts on her hair: $120 every now and then on a cut-and-color. She certainly does not want that budget shorn.

“It’s about feeling beautiful, it’s about having ‘Me Time,’ it’s about all of that,” McGarry says. “Spouses should probably steer clear in order to keep the peace.”

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

This Divorce Arrangement Stresses Kids Out Most

Regarding the wellbeing of kids with divorced parents, the debate over what kind of custody arrangement is best rages on. But a new study, published Monday in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, suggests that children fare better when they spend time living with both of their parents.

That goes against some current thinking that kids in shared-custody situations are exposed to more stress due to constantly moving around and the social upheaval that can come along with that. “Child experts and people in general assumed that these children should be more stressed,” says study author Malin Bergström, PhD, researcher at the Centre for Health Equity Studies in Stockholm, Sweden. “But this study opposes a major concern that this should not be good for children.”

The researchers wanted to see if kids who lived part time with both parents were more stressed than those who lived with just one parent. They looked at national data from almost 150,000 12- and 15-year-old students—each in either 6th grade or 9th grade—and studied their psychosomatic health problems, including sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, headaches, stomachaches and feeling tense, sad or dizzy. They found that 69% of them lived in nuclear families, while 19% spent time living with both parents and about 13% lived with only one parent.

Kids in nuclear families reported the fewest psychosomatic problems, but the more interesting finding was that students who lived with both of their separated parents reported significantly fewer problems than kids who lived with only one parent.

“We think that having everyday contact with both parents seems to be more important, in terms of stress, than living in two different homes,” says Bergström. “It may be difficult to keep up on engaged parenting if you only see your child every second weekend.” Having two parents also tends to double the number of resources a kid is exposed to, including social circles, family and material goods like money. “Only having access to half of that may make children more vulnerable or stressed than having it from both parents, even though they don’t live together,” she says.

Girls reported more psychosomatic problems than boys did, and the most frequent problem for girls was sadness. Sleep problems were the most common in kids overall.

In Sweden, joint-custody parenting has risen dramatically in the past few decades; in the 1980s, only 1% of kids of divorced parents lived in joint-custody arrangements, but that number jumped to 40% in 2010. Shared parenting is less common in the U.S., says Ned Holstein, MD, founder and acting executive director of the National Parents Organization, and he estimates the rate is less than 20%. Still, he says that the research in favor of shared parenting for kids is overwhelming. “You’ll hear opponents say, ‘You’ll turn them into suitcase kids; they don’t want to be dragged back and forth,'” Holstein says. “Clearly, taking the suitcase back and forth once or twice a week so that you spend a lot of time with both parents is way better for the kids than the alternative of basically losing an intimate and closely loving relationship with one parent.”

For all the week’s news of interest to families, sign up here for TIME’s free weekly parenting newsletter.

TIME Heart Disease

What Divorce Does to Women’s Heart Health

broken heart
Getty Images

When it comes to the fallout from a divorce, one spouse is harmed more by it’s biological and psychological effects on the heart

Dissolving a marriage is hard on everyone, but researchers say the psychological stress of a divorce can have serious physical effects on the heart, especially for women.

Women who divorced at least once were 24% more likely to experience a heart attack compared to women who remained married, and those divorcing two or more times saw their risk jump to 77%. In the study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, Matthew Dupre of Duke University and his colleagues found that men weren’t at similar risk. Men only saw their heart attack chances go up if they divorced two or more times compared to men who didn’t split with their spouses. If men remarried, their heart risk did not go up, while for women who remarried, their chances of having a heart attack remained slightly higher, at 35%, than that of divorced women.

MORE: Divorce More Likely When Wife Falls Ill

These findings remained strong even after Dupre’s team adjusted for other potential contributors to heart attack, including age, social factors such as changes in occupation and job status and health insurance coverage, and physiological factors including body mass index, hypertension and diabetes. Previous studies have found links between divorce or widowhood and heart disease that were explained, at least in part, by changes in people’s access to health care and their ability to keep up healthy eating and exercise habits.

But these are the first results from tracking people over a longer period of time—18 years—to capture the cumulative effects of changes in marital status, says Dupre. “We looked at lifetime exposure to not only current marital status, but how many times someone has been divorced in the past. What we found was that repeated exposure to divorce put men and women, but particularly women, at higher risk of having a heart attack compared to those who were married.”

MORE: Study: Marriage is Good For The Heart

And it wasn’t simply changes in health insurance coverage or financial status resulting from the divorce that explained the higher heart risk. Even after Dupre’s group accounted for these, the relationship held. While he admits that the trial did not investigate exactly how divorce is seeding more heart attacks, other studies hint at a possible explanation. Dramatic life changes such as divorce, which signal an end to not only a significant relationship but potentially to stable financial and social circumstances as well, can lead to spikes in the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn can push blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar to unhealthy heights.

The long term scope of the study revealed the impact that social and life events can have on the physical functioning of the body. “The health consequences of social stresses are real,” says Dupre. For women, the 77% higher risk of heart attack connected to multiple divorces was on par with well-established factors such as hypertension (which boosts risk by 73%) and diabetes (which elevates heart problems by 81%).

MORE: Do Married People Really Live Longer?

That’s doesn’t mean, of course, that women should avoid getting divorced to save their hearts. “Another way to put it is to say that women who are stably married are at an increased advantage of preventing heart attacks than women who may have had to go through transitions where they weren’t,” says Dupre.

It also makes a good case for doctors including discussion about potential stressors, including lifestyle and social circumstances, in their health assessment of patients. Recognizing that divorce may be a life event that can contribute to higher heart attack risk, for example, they can monitor patients experiencing divorce more carefully, and be alert to the first signs of potential problems with cholesterol, blood pressure or blood sugar. “Understanding all of the factors that lead to a physiological response are equally important,” says Dupre. And potentially life saving.

TIME Social Media

You Can Now Serve Divorce Papers on Facebook

Social Networking Sites May Be Monitored By Security Services
Dan Kitwood—Getty Images In this photo illustration the Social networking site Facebook is displayed on a laptop screen on March 25, 2009 in London, England.

Helping you change that relationship status to "single"

Facebook is a great tool for reconnecting with old friends, learning about potential job opportunities, and now… serving your spouse with divorce papers.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper ruled last week that a Brooklyn nurse is “granted permission to serve defendant with the divorce summons using a private message through Facebook.”

Ellanora Baidoo, 26, married Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku in a civil ceremony in 2009. Things fell apart after he refused to have a traditional Ghanian wedding with both of their families afterwards, according to the New York Daily News, which was the first to report the story. Blood-Dzraku has been elusive ever since; he left his apartment without a forwarding address, has no DMV record, and has no fixed place of employment.

He has, however, kept in touch from time to time with his wife on Facebook. And so, the social networking site has been deemed an appropriate place to serve Blood-Dzraku with a summons for a divorce proceeding:

“[The] transmittal shall be repeated by plaintiff’s attorney to defendant once a week for three consecutive weeks or until acknowledged by the defendant,” the ruling states. “Additionally, after the initial transmittal, plaintiff and her attorney are to call and text message defendant to inform him that the summons for divorce has been sent to him via Facebook.”

Baidoo might not be able to change her relationship status to single just yet, though. As her lawyer told the NYDN, “So far, [Blood-Dzraku] hasn’t responded.”

Read next: Why Facebook’s Scrapbook Is Bad For Your Baby

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TIME relationships

Here’s What One Woman Learned From Taking a Year Off From Her Marriage

Lessons from a year spent sowing wild oats

Robin Rinaldi did what many women dream of but few actually do: she took a year off from her marriage and made an agreement with her husband that they could both sleep with other people for a set period.

Rinaldi’s book, The Wild Oats Project, is a summary of what she learned during the year she spent in an open marriage. The idea came to her when her husband got a vasectomy after a long battle over whether they would have children — she wanted them, he didn’t. Faced with a future without a family, Rinaldi made a decision: “I refuse to go to my grave with no children and only four lovers,” she wrote, “If I can’t have one, I must have the other.”

That’s when she embarked on the Wild Oats Project. Rinaldi and her husband had three rules: no serious relationships, no sex with mutual friends and no sex without condoms. Both broke multiple rules over the course of the year, and it eventually took a toll on their relationship, but Rinaldi says the project wasn’t as much a choice as “a calling.”

“It was unlike me to act that way,” she says. “I had always been a very cautious and somewhat anxious person, I had always played by the rules. It was something instinctual, and something very female driving me to do this. It wasn’t really planned and strategized as much as felt.”

Still, Rinaldi found that, while many of her friends were supportive, some people thought her project was threatening, even terrifying: “The tale of a woman giving up security, even in an above-board way and allowing her husband to do the same thing, giving up all that security in pursuit of passion and adventure, is a scary idea for a lot of people,” she says. “I certainly didn’t write it to intentionally push anyone’s buttons.”

And ultimately, for Rinaldi and her husband, this was their last chance at saving their marriage. “We knew how risky it was, and we might not make it through, but it was really the only choice we had,” she says. “So we both agreed, two consenting adults, to try this first.” Ultimately, she and her husband went their separate ways, but Rinaldi says the project taught her much more than a simple divorce would have.

The biggest thing Rinaldi says she learned from the Wild Oats Project is that she was putting too much pressure on her husband. “Expecting your spouse to provide passion and security and purpose, it’s a lot,” she says. “I was asking too much of that one person… So now, as a result, I don’t look to someone else to kind of unfairly provide all of those things. That’s the biggest thing I learned from it, and I couldn’t have learned it unless I actually went through it.”

She also learned a lot about sex, and about her own body. Rinaldi spent much of the project in new-age sexual workshops and orgasmic meditation classes, so she came away a greater awareness of her sexuality. “The sex was the classroom, but the sex was not the lesson,” she says. “Your body has wisdom, that is very powerful and can kind of show you your path, and you don’t always have to think it through or necessarily act based on other people’s rules.”

Still, Rinaldi wouldn’t necessarily recommend that other women take exactly the same path she did. Instead, she’d advise younger women to “sow your wild oats before you settle down — that’s a no-brainer.”

Read next: Who Needs Marriage? A Changing Institution

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