Inside Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck's New Reality: Family, Sacrifice, Determination & a Love That Hasn't Died Even After Divorce

"It's been a hard few months but you would never know," a source tells E! News about the exes, who have become Hollywood's model co-parents

By Natalie Finn May 31, 2017 7:35 PMTags

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck's divorce continues to be more amicable than half the marriages in Hollywood.

In what has proved to be a most resilient display of co-parenting after a separation that was not untouched by scandal, the actors have settled into their new normal with inspired determination to make life as undramatic as possible for their three children, Violet, 11, Seraphina, 8, and Samuel, 5.

And, as Affleck himself has acknowledged, that wouldn't be possible if Garner wasn't up for it.

She'd have every reason not to be, the demise of a 10-year marriage certainly giving her license to grieve any way she wanted. But she has chosen relentless optimism.

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"It's been a hard few months but you would never know," a source tells E! News. "Jen always has her head up high and a smile on her face. She does a great job of keeping it together for the kids."

Since the kids are so young, that should be Mom and Dad's primary job, keeping it together for them—and even when Affleck was dodging the dodgier rumors about his behavior while still a married man, he never missed a minute of time that could be spent near his son and daughters, flying back and forth across the country and living in guest houses so he could be around for breakfast, nightly tuck-ins and drives to school.

So it's no wonder that Affleck and Garner's separation, not particularly surprising after the Oscar winner publicly thanked his wife for being willing to work on their marriage (the public pronouncements, either on stages or in interviews, are never a good sign), quickly became the shining example of what Hollywood co-parenting could look like if both parents really went for it.

Their happy-looking dynamic, from the family of five's trip to the Bahamas to wait out the split announcement to more recent sightings of casual dinners for two and Affleck's endless spoken appreciation for Garner as a mom, partner and tireless supporter of his career ambitions, ultimately served to lull their fans into a blissful post-split stupor—one they were jolted out of when Garner finally filed for divorce in April.

After spending months in counseling before deciding to separate, they may have tried here and there to see if they could do full-on marriage again, but ultimately it wasn't an option. And so they press forward.

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Affleck has finally moved out of the guest house on their L.A. property and into his own place nearby, and with the last day of school looming, Garner is making plans for the summer.

A source tells us that the Wakefield star's plans for the kids include camp, a "bucket list of fun outings" and, of course, family trips. 

And if any of this seems like a lot of together time for a couple of exes, even ones who have three kids is. Garner's status as the "greatest mom in the world" in Affleck's eyes doesn't come without its hardships.

"He's the love of my life," Garner told Vanity Fair early last year in her first in-depth interview after the split. "What am I going to do about that? He's the most brilliant person in any room, the most charismatic, the most generous." On the flip side, she continued, "he's just a complicated guy. I always say, 'When his sun shines on you, you feel it.' But when the sun is shining elsewhere, it's cold. He can cast quite a shadow."

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More than a year later, having processed the bad times along with the good, Garner has found that, while life has to move on, some things only change so much.

"Jen has a tremendous amount of love for Ben and will probably never stop loving him," the source says. "She hasn't turned off those feelings." And even though it looked as though they had the friendly exes life nailed from day one, it's actually been "a slow transition that they've eased into as seamlessly as possible."

Garner wanted to avoid stress and pain where possible, so they've "taken it slowly," the insider continues. Now, "they're great co-parents and make decisions together regarding their kids. Everything is very structured and organized, and they're on the same page with their plans. They keep each other updated with everything that's going on."


If anything, Affleck's the one who may be viewing his post-divorce life with Garner through especially rose-colored glasses.

Asked if he would be up for directing his future ex-wife one day, he told People this month, "I would love to, are you kidding me? I think that would be great. I've often said that I want to direct a movie that Jennifer was in because I think she's so great and she could do something really cool."

Then again, he added, "the problem that gets in the way is that one of us has to be looking after the kids at home."

About that... Since their separation, both stars have been busy, but Affleck's foray into major franchise territory swallowed up—and promises to continue swallowing—a big chunk of his time. He also spent time in rehab earlier this year for alcoholism, after which he credited Garner for being strong and holding down the fort while he completed treatment.

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"I'm lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I've done the work I set out to do," he said in a statement in March. "This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery."

A source told E! News that Affleck was moving in a "healthy, balanced direction" after rehab, which he proactively checked into to avoid a repeat of any past destructive patterns.

Justice League, which he shot last year, is due in theaters Nov. 17, and he told Variety in December that the script for The Batman, which would be his first solo Caped Crusader outing, was "coming together."

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This month Garner was out promoting the indie drama Wakefield, which hit theaters May 19 and is available on VOD. She plays the wife of Bryan Cranston's title character, a successful family man who unexpectedly detaches from the world, preferring to observe rather than participate.

As for any time spent not working...she's Mom, first and foremost. During a recent appearance on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert offered his services if she needed any babysitting and she exclaimed, "I do! I have 17 children—that's what I feel like." (She did get to make the trip to New York on her own.)

As for the effect that all of the above has had on her social life, from the parenting-work balance to all that time spent with a former spouse, Garner is once again amiably taking one for the team.

With no time for romance, her extracurricular life right now is all about the group of smart and successful female friends who've served as her devoted support system in good times and bad. Reese Witherspoon was one of the close pals who helped Garner celebrate her 45th birthday last month.

"She's not looking to date or actively thinking about it," a source says. "Down the road if someone walked into her life, that was worth her time and time away from her kids, she might consider it. But it's not the goal or mission right now. Her kids and giving them a happy home is her focus."