As they so often seem to do, celebrities serve to signify trends and spotlight issues (think Angelina Jolie and world hunger, Sean Pitt and his Haiti volunteer work, Kevin Costner and his recent Capitol Hill appearances regarding the BP oil spill and clean-up technology).

Marriage experts and family counselors are now pointing to celebrities as focal points for highlighting a strongly growing trend, namely, amicability following divorce that centrally acknowledges the lasting value of ongoing relationships not marked by hostilities.

Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke are prime examples. Following divorce, Thurman says that, "I cannot participate in anything critical about my children's father," despite pre-divorce rumors of Hawke's infidelity. Hawke responds by noting that Thurman is a "great mother" to the couple's kids.

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson continue to share a home; Al and Tipper Gore have insisted that they will remain good friends; Demi Moore and Bruce Willis continue to be seen together in public along with Moore's current husband, Ashton Kutcher, with all adults sharing time with and caring for the kids.

Dr. Constance Ahrons, a professor at USC and author of books focused on family and divorce, points to a growing concern among divorced couples that family bonds continue to remain strong and that civility attach across families when partners find new mates. Ahrons points to clear benefits in what she calls the "binuclear family" that spans two households.

Ahron's tips to avoid post-divorce acrimony (here, be reminded of the cautionary tale of Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva):

• Compromise, knowing that it's necessary
• Think in terms of a new family becoming integrated with the old unit, i.e., binuclear
• Slow down and let children adjust
• Take into the future all that was good from the former marriage

Remaining friendly following a divorce is a matter that experts agree is entirely separate from securing knowledgeable and focused legal representation during the divorce process. In fact, Ahron's strong advice to "establish an agreement with clear rules" is often put into effect only through diligent advocacy that fully safeguards rights and promotes interests at the divorce stage.

Related Resource: www.smh.com "The Happy Divorce" September 20, 2010