The Real Reason Why It Took Jen And Ben So Long To File For Divorce

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were married for a decade and shared three kids (daughters Violet, 11, and Seraphina, 8, and son Sam, 5). They announced a whopping two years ago that they were splitting up, telling press in a joint statement, "After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce. We go forward with love and friendship for one another and a commitment to co-parenting our children whose privacy we ask to be respected during this difficult time. This will be our only comment on this private family matter. Thank you for understanding."

That was on June 30, 2015. It took them until April 13, 2017, to actually file for divorce. What was the holdup here? Well, there were a few.

He wanted to work it out ...

Insiders early on seemed to believe Affleck couldn't bear to let Garner go. In May 2016, a source told People, "Ben wants Jen back." A second source concurred, "Ben wants to get back together. He wants her back." In July 2016, more than a year after Affleck and Garner announced their separation, a source close to Garner told People, "They're still figuring things out. Ben still doesn't want the divorce and he might actually get his way."

Another insider told E! News, "Their relationship is very fluid and nothing has really changed. They have been working at their relationship for the past few years." A separate source told E! News, "There have been times when a reconciliation looked very likely,. They love each other and that hasn't changed. But it's unclear what the future holds for them ...The spirit of their relationship has not changed."

... and so did she

For a while, it looked like Garner and Affleck really would work it out, because she seemed to want him back romantically too.

First came Garner's instantly-viral Vanity Fair interview in March 2016, in which she gushed of her estranged husband, "I didn't marry the big fat movie star; I married him. And I would go back and remake that decision. I ran down the beach to him, and I would again. You can't have these three babies and so much of what we had. He's the love of my life. What am I going to do about that? He's the most brilliant person in any room, the most charismatic, the most generous. He's just a complicated guy."

The ice seemed to thaw by May 2016, when a source told Hollywood Life, "Ben and Jen are in a weird place. They have so much history and kids together. They are comfortable with each other and there is still an attraction." A month later in June 2016, a friend of Garner told Us Weekly, "A lot of the damage in their relationship has been mended. They're in a really good place."

In July 2016, an insider revealed to People that vacationing with Affleck and the kids made Garner rethink her decision to split up. "She had the best time in Europe with Ben and the kids," a source close to Garner said. "She seemed much happier when she returned to L.A."

The biggest reconciliation hope came in March 2017, just a month before they actually filed divorce papers, when a source told People, "Jen has called off the divorce. She really wants to work things out with Ben. They are giving things another try." Another source said, "There is always a chance of reconciliation. They love each other."

She wanted another child

A source told Radar Online that despite separating, Garner wanted another baby with Affleck. "Friends are expecting an announcement very soon that Jen is pregnant," the insider dished in May 2016. "She's always wanted another child with him. Even since they split, she's gushed publicly about how he is the love of her life." That may not have panned out, but it doesn't mean it wasn't on their minds.

They wanted to give their kids time to adjust to the new situation

A source told E! News that part of the delay in filing for divorce was simply to look out for their kids' well-being and ensure that they could adjust well to the changes in the family. "It was very amicable. It's a testament to how they've handled themselves the past few years. It isn't just for show," a source said. "Everything now is all about love and their family. They're putting their kids first, as they always do."

Affleck told CBS This Morning (via People) in March 2016, "We're doing our very best and we're putting our kids first and that's how we're focusing on our day-to-day lives. We don't know what the future's going to hold, but each step that we take is one where we prioritize our children and everything else comes second." He also told E! News, "Jen is a superhero mom. She is an amazing mother and I'm really lucky to have her as a partner to co-parent these kids with. We try our best, we put them first and that's what we do."

He couldn't be on his own yet

Some insiders believe the couple waited to call it quits simply because Affleck genuinely needed Garner's somewhat maternal presence to keep himself on track and out of trouble. A source close to the couple told People in May 2016, "Ben has never been good alone and isn't now either. But he is constantly working on himself. He has made big changes."

However, sources now tell TMZ that Affleck is finally dating someone again, though it isn't serious. Garner hasn't moved forward yet.

He was getting help

Affleck announced in March 2017 that he'd spent time in rehab. "I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I've dealt with in the past and will continue to confront," he wrote in Facebook post. "I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step." It was Affleck's second known stint in a rehabilitation center, having previously checked in for unspecified causes in 2001.

A source told E! News the timing wasn't a coincidence. "There wasn't one final straw. They had been living this way for almost two years and it was time to move on. Jen has been planning to file for a few months and Ben was on board with it. She gave him a chance to finish rehab and to be in a healthy place and then they decided together it was time to take this step. It was a coordinated effort and they are on the same page."

An insider told People that Garner saw rehab as a positive step and didn't judge Affleck for briefly succumbing to his demons. "He has been struggling and he decided that he needed to get back to being healthy again. It was Ben's choice to receive treatment," the source said. "She is happy that he is working on himself."

Ben had a full schedule

In addition to working on himself, Affleck also had to work, in a big way: He made his debut as Batman in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016), the first part of the DC franchise. He also made a cameo in Suicide Squad (2016) and filmed Justice League (2017) before the split, and he's slated to start filming The Batman in spring 2017. However, it wasn't just caped crusaders taking up his time: He also wrote, starred in, and directed Live By Night (2016) and starred in The Accountant (2016). Divorces are time-consuming and difficult for anyone, but combine all these projects with awards shows, promotional work, and press tours, and it's easy to see why it may have taken quite a while to hammer out a filing.

They still co-habitate

Affleck still lives on the family property with Garner and the kids, but in the guest house — and sources say that may change soon. "They are figuring out what to do [about their future living arrangements]," a source told People. "For now, they are all living together. One thing they agree on — the kids will stay at the family house. Jen and Ben will focus on making things as smoothly as possible for the kids. It's all about what's best for them."

An insider told Us Weekly, "Ben will move out and is looking for a property close by so they can continue to co-parent as they have been. He will move out when he finds the right place."

They're still dividing their assets privately

Family law specialist Steven Mindel explained to People, "There is a huge document that has to be put together that specifies all their assets and business deals. It's a long process. They most likely have a marital settlement agreement that wouldn't be made public or a co-parenting agreement that again would not be public."

Another family law specialist, Peter M. Walzer, noted to People that the pair's omission of a date of separation points to this theory also. "They have a lot of interests, residuals, royalties for movies. These people are making lots of money. It would be important to know when that stops being joint property. I seldom see people leave that blank. That signals they've got a deal and they're not going to put it on the papers."

Insiders told TMZ that the estranged couple didn't discuss financial dealings at all during most of their separation because they were trying to work it out. Since there reportedly wasn't a prenuptial agreement, all of Affleck and Garner's assets have to be valued and divided amongst them, which could take months.