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It’s official: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have split

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner and Jennifer during the 16th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards in 2011. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images for VH1)

After months, if not years of speculation, Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck have called it quits.

The couple released a joint statement exclusively to People just days after a moving van was spotted outside the couple’s shared home. They explained it away at the time by saying they were “renovating.”

“After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce,” they told People. “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.”

Garner, 43, and Affleck, 42 are parents to three children, Violet, 9, Seraphina, 6, and Samuel, 3.

[Marriage saved Ben Affleck’s career. Now what?]

They marked their tenth anniversary Monday. Many speculated that they were waiting until after the date to announce their separation because alimony laws in California are different once a marriage eclipses the 10-year mark.

California Family Code Section 4336 defines a marriage lasting longer than 10 years as a marriage of “long duration,” which means that, in the absence of a prenuptial agreement, the court “retains jurisdiction indefinitely” when it comes to determining spousal support or alimony.

This has been misinterpreted to mean that one party could receive unlimited alimony once the 10 year threshold is passed. The reality is a little duller: it just means that a family court judge retains the power to determine who should get spousal support, how much, and for how long. Typically, but not always, when marriages that lasting less than 10 years dissolve, the person receiving alimony has half the time they were married to become self-supporting. So for example, if you were married for eight years, you could reasonably expect to collect alimony for four years unless a judge ruled otherwise — and sometimes they do.

However, in marriages of long duration, a different set of rules apply and the marital half-life formula is no longer the standard for determining how long the lower-earning spouse should receive alimony. Again, sometimes a judge may decide that the lower-earning party will never become completely self-sufficient and rule to sustain alimony payments indefinitely, but that’s not a guarantee.

So, how does this relate to Affleck and Garner?

While both are seriously wealthy, Affleck has outearned Garner significantly, and she’s spoken publicly about cooling down her shooting schedule in order to raise their three children. Meanwhile, Affleck is already booked for more big paydays; he will star as Batman in a whopping four upcoming movies taking him through 2019 and that’s not to mention other projects as an actor or producer.

“Ben is super busy and I’m super happy for him,” Garner told Us Weekly while promoting her new movie “Danny Collins” in March. “I chose to stay home this year and just said, ‘Go for it babe. Do it all. Do ‘Gone Girl,’ do ‘Batman’ do ‘The Accountant.’ Do everything.’ I want that for him and I’m happy for him. And he says the same to me. Except that he’s really busy. But he understands that when I really have to do it, we figure it out.”

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