Laura Dern was famously engaged to Billy Bob Thornton up until 2000. They had been dating since 1997. And just as famously she went away to make a movie and found out in the news that he had spontaneously married Angelina Jolie.
Laura was reportedly devastated at the news. But she’s not someone to dwell on regrets or mishaps. Instead she moved on and began dating singer Ben Harper, whom she met in 2000 as well. Before long she was pregnant with their first child, a son who was born in 2001. Three years later their second child and only daughter arrived and in 2005 the happy couple married in a small ceremony at their Los Angeles home.
The couple seemed happy for the next five years and nobody suspected that anything might be wrong. But in 2010 Ben filed for divorce. Laura claimed to have been blindsided by the divorce petition, though Ben said that they had been separated for 10 months before he filed.
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Ben cited irreconcilable differences in his divorce petition and requested shared custody of their two young children. He also requested that spousal support should be denied.
Then everything went quiet.
Eventually Laura and Ben showed up together for the Golden Globes in 2012 and it was assumed that their rumoured reconciliation was going well. But in July that same year Laura reactivated the divorce that had been dormant until then. She brought in famed divorce queen Laura Wasser and requested primary physical custody for the kids and joint legal custody. Considering that she was already the primary caretaker for the children, this was not a surprising request.
She also requested spousal support, child support and that Ben should cover her legal fees. Those requests are fairly standard, though one would not expect Laura Dern to require spousal support.
The divorce did not go down quickly. It’s possible that it was somewhat contentious, but we didn’t hear anything about that. It took until September 2013 for it to be finalized, which is the only indicator that Laura and Ben did not agree on the terms easily.
When the divorce was finalized, the terms were kept confidential. We do know, though, that neither party received spousal support and that Laura is said to receive only a small amount of child support. Since it’s unknown whether or not there was a prenup, we don’t know if terms have been honoured or if the two simply agreed to divide assets and part ways.
After the divorce both of them moved on. Laura does seem to have primary physical custody of the children and she says that they dealt quite well with the post-divorce situation, because they had always been used to their father being away on tour anyway. Laura herself moved on quickly. Whilst she wasn’t exactly seeing anyone special, she simply decided to chalk the divorce up as another life experience. She admitted to not having any regrets and that she didn’t want to be broken by the divorce.
Ben on the other hand began dating Jaclyn Matfus. In February last year he married her. She became his third wife. Given that his first marriage lasted four years and his second seven, albeit with an interruption, his third marriage may well last longer. Ben already has four children, whether or not he will add to the brood is not yet known.
Incidentally Billy Bob Thornton is married for the sixth time now. All his marriages lasted two or three years. He’s now been married for two years. Hopefully this one will last a little longer than his previous marriages.