Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the Trump family has dominated the headlines. From former president Donald Trump’s surprise 2016 campaign, his family’s involvement in his campaigns and administration, his two impeachment trials — the list goes on. And, in addition to the political coverage that the Trumps have received, many people have dug into their personal lives. After all, it’s not a difficult thing to do.
We all know that The Donald is married to a model, has had affairs with adult film stars, and has five kids with three different women. We know that Melania Trump has swatted Donald’s hand away from hers in awkward interactions, we know that Tiffany Trump lives an insanely lavish lifestyle, and we know just how much the Trump family is worth. But if there is one personal story that has evaded a lot of the news, it’s the divorce proceedings of Donald Trump Jr. and his ex-wife, Vanessa Trump.
The eldest Trump son, Don Jr., made a name for himself as one of his father’s biggest defenders, but he’s also been a husband and is a father of five. So why the divorce in 2018? What went wrong? Here’s the real reason Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa got divorced.
Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump lived separate lives before getting divorced
A lot of married couples compartmentalize their lives in order to get everything accomplished in a day — it’s almost an unavoidable part of marriage. Between full-time jobs, commitments, and kids — five for Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump — there’s quite a lot to manage. But Don Jr. and Vanessa took it to the next level and were reportedly living completely separate lives before their divorce, according to sources who spoke to Page Six. The unnamed sources revealed that the couple was experiencing “marital problems” and that their close friends knew that divorce was imminent.
One of the former couple’s main sources of marital stress? Don Jr.’s busy schedule. “Don Jr. has been busy traveling, which has contributed to their problems,” one of the sources said. “Vanessa is a devoted mother, but she is increasingly lonely and alone in the house with the children.” In a move that is not at all surprising, the spokesperson for Don Jr. and Vanessa declined numerous opportunities to comment about the couple’s status at the time, but it didn’t stop the sources from telling Page Six what was reportedly wrong with the marriage. “The problems have been there for a long time,” one said.
Vanessa Trump reportedly was kept on a very tight financial leash
If the Trump name has been synonymous with one thing, it’s wealth. Donald Trump made a name for himself as a real estate tycoon and placed his three eldest children in positions of power and influence over his political and business interests. But he’s been known to keep his daughter, Tiffany Trump, on a short financial leash, and it seems like maybe Donald Trump Jr. pulled the same approach from his father’s playbook.
As noted by Page Six, a number of sources claimed that Vanessa’s home life was not filled with the usual comforts that we associate with the Trumps. One put it very simply: “[Don Jr.] treats her like a second-class citizen.” Yikes. A friend of the couple alleged that Don Jr. gave Vanessa “very little help” and kept her on a “tight budget.”
“She doesn’t live a lavish life and can very rarely pick up a check at dinner,” the friend revealed. In addition, another source dished that Vanessa had to turn to her own family for financial help, as Don Jr. was reportedly “never generous with money.” Don Jr. is worth $25 million, just for your information.
Vanessa Trump filed an "uncontested divorce," meaning that she was not looking for a fight
Despite the alleged tension between her and her former husband, Vanessa Trump opted for an uncontested divorce, a high road position if you ask us. As noted by The New York Times, Vanessa filed for the uncontested divorce in Manhattan, New York, and, as such, the couple released a joint statement saying that they had “decided to go [their] separate ways.”
So what exactly is this type of divorce? According to Attorneys.com, an uncontested divorce means that both sides agree on all the issues pertaining to their separation (think child custody, finances, property, etc.). Also known as a “simple divorce,” it leaves both sides pretty much intact and avoids the harrowing back-and-forth arguments that divorces are often associated with.
Kenneth Burrows, a New York marriage lawyer who was not involved in Don Jr. and Vanessa’s case, told The New York Times that the move was surprising. “An uncontested divorce is the much saner and healthier way of doing things, which makes it unusual for the Trump family,” he said. If people opt to get divorced, this seems like the way to do it.
Vanessa Trump and Donald Trump Jr.'s relationship was rocky even before they married
You know when you’re involved with a guy and your closest friends tell you that he just isn’t it? That there’s just something about the two of you together that doesn’t feel right? We’ve all been there, and most of us have stormed off in a huff when confronted by our friends with a truth that we really don’t want to hear. But it appears as though Vanessa Trump got similar warnings, because, as noted by Page Six, things were allegedly a bit off between her and Donald Trump Jr. before they even sealed the deal.
“They were having problems before they even got married,” a source told Page Six. “People were telling her not to marry him before the wedding.” Of course, things reportedly got more and more difficult for Vanessa and Don Jr. as Donald Trump’s political life took off — for those who need their memories jogged, Don Jr. was on much of the campaign trail with his father, solidifying his place in conservative politics. But a spokesperson for the couple denied that anything was toxic between them, saying, “Don and Vanessa have tremendous respect for each other and always have.”
Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump argued over finances and child custody
No matter who’s involved, no matter the family or the money or the politics, divorce is tough. Ask any kid who’s witnessed their parents go at it with lawyers in the room, it’s not a fun time. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump’s divorce proceedings were apparently not too amicable after all. The two reportedly didn’t agree on absolutely everything during their divorce and found themselves heading for court.
According to Page Six, the former couple fought over child custody and “financial details” since the initial divorce filing was made. But both parties should be commended, because the hearing that was supposed to take place to settle disputes between Don Jr. and Vanessa was adjourned, meaning they had come to an agreement outside the court system.
Judge Michael Katz of the Manhattan Supreme Court even came out in support of how they handled the proceedings. “I very much would like to commend both of you for working out whatever differences you may have had regarding those issues and committing to co-parenting with each other,” Katz said. “You have prioritized your children … Not everyone is able to do that.”
Vanessa Trump reportedly feared for her children's safety and well-being
With any high-profile position comes an increased, heightened concern about safety. No family is more aware of this than the First Family of the United States, but the anxiety around protection was something that Vanessa Trump experienced, too, due in part to Donald Trump Jr.’s public life and controversial career. As noted by Page Six, Don Jr. wanted more privacy in his life, prompting him to ask for her Secret Service detail to be removed. Because of this, Vanessa and her five kids experienced “a rotating set of temporary agents,” which proved to be a real challenge.
“There are all these new people coming and going. The kids don’t like that. They can’t get comfortable with someone they don’t know,” a source shared. Although their protection was restored, Vanessa reportedly feared for her and her children’s well-being and hated being in the spotlight while married to Don Jr.
“Vanessa … by nature is a very low-key person,” a source told Page Six. “She is uncomfortable with the attention her family is getting now [that] the Trumps are on the world stage.” Understandable.
Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump have very different political backgrounds
Donald Trump went back and forth on his political affiliation earlier in his life (he was once a registered Democrat, if you can believe it), but he’s now responsible for a huge political faction of the Republican party. As such, his kids followed in line with his talking points and policy initiative while in office, largely having to do with conservative (and often controversial) politics. Donald Trump Jr. was right by his father’s side and often championed his father’s political perspectives, but his decision to get into the family’s political life could’ve been a point of contention between him and Vanessa Trump.
As noted by The New York Times, Vanessa came from a far more liberal family than Don Jr., the proof of which existed throughout her mother’s social media use. Vanessa’s mom, Bonnie Jay Haydon, has been very supportive of higher taxes, the democratic socialism of countries like Sweden, and has not kept her opinions about gun control on the down low. She has also been outspoken about her thoughts on women’s rights to reproductive autonomy. If Vanessa was at all influenced by her mom, as Don Jr. was influenced by his dad, things were destined to get complicated.
Vanessa reportedly wanted to wait out Donald Trump's first term in office before getting divorced
It’s safe to say that the Trumps’ world was turned upside down when Donald Trump was elected president. A lot of people thought it was a long shot, but he upset the electoral favorite, Hillary Clinton, and won the electoral college votes to put him in office. And while The Donald and his immediate family were navigating the uncharted waters, Vanessa Trump was weighing her options.
As noted by Page Six, Vanessa reportedly decided to wait until Donald Trump’s first term was up before pursuing her divorce from Donald Trump Jr., but, as one source put it, “she just couldn’t stand it anymore,” and went ahead with the divorce in 2018. A spokesperson for Vanessa denied the allegation, saying that the “decisions that she and Don have made on their marriage have nothing to do with politics.” But sources close to the couple countered the denial. “The problems have been there for a long time,” one source said. “The couple had hoped to stay together during the president’s time in office, but it is getting harder to resolve their issues. He’s never there.”
Donald Trump Jr.'s involvement with his father's politics allegedly impacted his marriage to Vanessa
Threats against the president and his (and one day her) family should always be taken seriously, and things took a really scary turn for Vanessa Trump during Donald Trump’s term in office. As noted by Vanity Fair, Vanessa opened mail, addressed to Donald Trump Jr., that contained an unmarked white powder. After she opened the “suspicious package,” Vanessa was taken to the hospital out of caution, which makes a lot of sense considering that along with the powder was an “explicit threat” (via Page Six). How scary!
As noted by Page Six, the New York Police Department confirmed that the powder was not harmful, but it certainly seemed to send a message. And quite understandably, Vanessa was shaken by the incident. “It was terrifying for Vanessa, who is naturally worried for the safety of her children,” a source told Page Six. From the looks of things, it appears as though the letter incident was yet another point of contention between the couple, as Vanessa became increasingly concerned about Don Jr.’s high profile and what it might mean for her safety and the safety of their kids.
Vanessa Trump reportedly met with divorce lawyers before Donald Trump became president
You know it’s bad when divorce lawyers enter the conversation, and it appears as though Vanessa Trump was willing to pull the plug on her marriage to Donald Trump Jr. before his father, Donald Trump, took office. As noted by Page Six, Vanessa was allegedly meeting with divorce lawyers before Donald Trump’s political campaign revved up. “No one thought he’d win,” a source told Page Six, but Donald’s rise to political power and Don Jr.’s active role in the campaign and, later, the presidency, reportedly put Vanessa’s plans on hold.
By 2018, things between Vanessa and Don Jr. were worse for wear, and close friends saw them heading down the path to divorce. But one close source to the couple told Page Six at the time that the two of them were “trying to deal with” their problems “privately,” and that divorce was not yet on the table. “Don is still living at home, is a good dad and is super involved in his kids’ lives,” the source said. “He has always traveled for work, so his current schedule is not something out of the ordinary.” But as we know, things did not last for these two.
Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump's marriage started off rough after their very public proposal
Future in-laws should stay out of proposals, but that wasn’t the case for Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump. As noted by Vanity Fair, things started off rocky for the couple when Donald Trump gave his unfiltered opinion about his son’s proposal to Vanessa.
Here’s what The Donald was griping about. Don Jr. scored a deal with the jeweler Bailey Banks & Biddle when he popped the question to Vanessa. He got a $100,000 ring for free for proposing in front of cameras at the jeweler’s Short Hills Mall location (via The New York Times). The stunt was clearly not what Donald Trump considered classy, because he went on Larry King’s show and critiqued the choice.
“You have a name that is hot as a pistol, you have to be very careful with things like this,” he said (as reported by Vanity Fair). And it looks like Don Jr. really shouldn’t have bothered with the stunt, because Bailey Banks & Biddle filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Not a well-executed start for the couple, that’s for sure.
Social media was a major point of contention for Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump
Donald Trump is known for his contentious relationship with Twitter — of which he is banned from due to his activity. But social media was reportedly a big trigger point between Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump, as Don Jr. shared similar posts like his father. A friend told Page Six that Vanessa “hates that he posts stuff online, pictures of their kids and how he paints the picture of him as a perfect father … It’s not the truth,” the source said.
Vanessa’s spokesperson clapped back, stating that while she is protective of her children, she is not unhappy with Don Jr.’s social media activity involving them. “Vanessa is usually the first to ‘like’ the posts that he shares,” the spokesperson said. “Don is a wonderful and very involved father.”
But another social media-derived issue for the couple, allegedly, was Don Jr.’s problematic activity — such as liking a tweet that linked antidepressants to mass shootings and supporting tweets that attacked school shooting survivors. A source close to the couple told Page Six that Don Jr. had changed and that “friends [were] concerned about him” given his social media antics.
Donald Trump Jr.'s very public career reportedly drove a wedge between him and Vanessa Trump
The spotlight can change people — there’s no denying that — and from the onset of his marriage, Donald Trump Jr.’s public life was only growing. As noted by The New York Times, Don Jr. started appearing on his father’s widely watched show, The Apprentice, and, as such, began receiving a new level of interest from the public. Bo Dietl, a guest at Don Jr. and Vanessa Trump’s wedding, told The New York Times that due to his heightened appearance on The Apprentice, women were “throwing themselves” at Don Jr. (which must’ve been awkward for Vanessa).
Of course, things only got more public when Don Jr. emerged on the campaign trail with his father, a move that not only increased his exposure to the voters, but saw an expansion of his public influence. “He’s never around,” Dietl said about the dynamic between Don Jr. and Vanessa. “I definitely had that sense.”
People close to Vanessa additionally told The New York Times that Don Jr.’s public career and connection to the First Family put a remarkable amount of strain on Vanessa. It’s not hard to understand why.
Vanessa Trump reportedly did not support this hobby of her former husband, Donald Trump Jr.
To animal rights activists, Donald Trump Jr. is known as the son of the former president who likes big game hunting — a very controversial hobby. As noted by Page Six, Don Jr. has traveled near and far to hunt and has posted photos on his social media of animals — including leopards and elephants — that he has killed. Add this hobby to the list of problems between Don Jr. and Vanessa, because she was reportedly not a fan of her then-husband’s pastime.
“I know she wasn’t thrilled that he hunted as he did,” Christine Schott, a model manager and former publicist for Vanessa, told The New York Times. “I know she wanted to keep it on the [down low]. She knew that was going to be a big issue, socially.”
And if what Schott said is true, then, yes, Vanessa was right to know that Don Jr.’s hunting would become a big issue. As noted by the BBC, Don Jr. landed in some hot water with animal activist groups when he shot a rare sheep, but things didn’t stop there. The hunt cost US taxpayers $75,000, which was not a good look for the then-president’s son.
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