Anatomy of a Breakup: Where Did It All Go Wrong for Pete and Ashlee Simpson-Wentz?

We dig deep into the archive to relive the highs and lows of the couple's life span

By Gina Serpe Feb 10, 2011 3:30 AMTags
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Color us shocked: The Simpson sisters are currently 0-2 when it comes to marriages, but we really thought this one would last.

This morning, Ashlee Simpson-Wentz and Pete Wentz shocked us all when they announced that after nearly three years of marriage—and two years of dating before that—they were going their separate ways. This, despite an apparently healthy Twitter relationship and regular tandem outings with their son.

So what happened? The party line is…nothing. But something had to give, and we're digging deep into the archive to find out what.

Here's how it all went down:

September 2006: Fresh from a break from former bandmate Braxton Olita, Ashlee (then Simpson) hit up the hipster-magnet MisShapes Labor Day party in New York City with sister Jessica. While there, she stuck to Pete like glue, as the duo was caught "making out," downing shots and dirty dancing. A star couple is born!

September 2007: Honeymoon's over! But in a good way. After cuddling their way through the MTV Video Music Awards, Wentz told People, "We're past the honeymoon period. The truth is, it's crazy to be able to kiss your best friend. It's just a really awesome thing." Papa Joe also publicly gives his seal of approval over the coupling, telling the mag, "He's a good kid."

February 2008: Speculation begins that the couple is engaged after Ashlee is spotted wearing a diamond on her ring finger. She denies it on a technicality, announcing on Fuse TV, "It's a promise ring. It just means that he hasn't asked my dad yet."

April 2008: He asked! In a message posted to Pete's Website,, Ashlee announced their betrothal. "We know there has been a lot of speculation recently about Pete and I, and we wanted our fans to be the first to know, because you guys are the best. Yes, we are thrilled to share that we are happily engaged."

April-May 2008: Ashlee is put on bumpwatch as speculation begins that she's pregnant. Neither side comments.

May 17, 2008: Simpson, at 23, and Wentz, at 28, tie the knot in an Alice in Wonderland-themed ceremony at Simpson's parents' Encino home. Papa Joe officiates the ceremony, attended by about 100 guests, including Jessica and her then-boyfriend Tony Romo, Scrubs' Donald Faison and his girlfriend (and longtime Simpson family pal) Cacee Cobb, friends Nicole Richie and Joel Madden, and the fellow Fall Out Boys.

May 2008: A few weeks after swapping vows, the couple confirms the obvious: that they're expecting their first child. "While many have speculated about this, we wanted to wait until after the first trimester to officially confirm that we are expecting our first child," they said. "This is truly the most joyous time in our lives and we are excited to share the happy news and start our family."

Nov. 20, 2008: It's a boy! The couple welcomes son Bronx Mowgli Wentz into the world.

December 2008: Oops. So that's where David Arquette got that idea: Pete turned up for a chat with Howard Stern and reveals extremely intimate details about their sex life both pre- and post-birth, their first sexual encounter, Ashlee's bra size, whether he fantasized about his sister-in-law and Ashlee's talent for giving lap dances. He also declined to rate his ex, Michelle Trachtenberg, but said, "she was a blast."

March 2009: The couple temporarily silence rumors of marital discord after appearing together and making out onstage at the MTV Australia Awards in Sydney. "Sorry, we haven't seen each other for awhile," Pete said. "We're going to go and find some quiet time to fornicate somewhere."

April 2009: Pete is photographed partying it up with a bunch of strippers while Ashlee is home with baby Bronx.

June 2009: The blogosphere erupts with news that Ashlee lost control and picked a fight with Trachtenberg at a DJ Hero launch party in Los Angeles. As the story went, Ashlee had a little too much to drink and began hurling insults at Michelle, allegedly shouting, "I hope you know, the whole time you were dating Pete, I was f--king him!" Later, Ashlee's rep called the situation "a misunderstanding. Ashlee has since apologized to Michelle and they remain on good terms."

August 2009: Ashlee vehemently denies reports of a major public (and booze-induced) bust-up while celebrating the one-year anniversary of Wentz's Chicago bar, Angels and Kings.

September 2009: Star magazine prints a story alleging that Ashlee caught Pete cheating on her and subsequently kicked him out of their house. The couple don't comment on the report, but actions speak louder than words: they were spotted the next day walking hand-in-hand around West Hollywood with their son.

October 2009: After just 12 episodes, Ashlee is unceremoniously cut from the remake of Melrose Place.

January 2010: Pete hosts a New Year's Eve party at Jet nightclub in Las Vegas. Solo. Ash stayed behind in New York City, where she was both caring for Bronx and appearing nightly in Chicago on Broadway.

Dec. 11, 2010: The seemingly happy couple attend the nuptials of close pals Nicole Richie and Joel Madden.

December 2010: The couple keep up appearances by making the holiday party rounds along with son Bronx.

February 2011: The couple is seen walking arm-in-arm around West Hollywood with their son. They also exchange loving tweets.

Feb. 5, 2011: A solo Pete hosts a Super Bowl party.

Feb. 9, 2011: After their filing with the court is uncovered, Ashlee and Pete confirm that their marriage is over, with Ashlee citing irreconcilable differences in the document filed Feb. 8 in Los Angeles Superior Court. "After careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to file for divorce," they said in a joint statement. "We remain friends and deeply committed and loving parents to our son Bronx, whose happiness and well-being remains our number one priority. We ask that everyone honor our privacy as we navigate this next phase of our lives."

Ashlee is seeking joint legal but sole physical custody of Bronx, with visitation rights for Pete. She's also seeking spousal support and is asking to restore her name to Ashlee Simpson.

(Originally published Feb. 9, 2011, at 6 p.m. PT)