From mountains of paperwork and messy custody battles to new living arrangements, it’s no secret that ending a marriage can take a serious emotional toll. And while eating spoonfuls of rocky road straight from the container is one way to cope (no judgment here), watching thoughtful movies about divorce—especially those that resonate with what you're going through—can also help soften the blow of this stressful, life-changing event.

Perhaps you’re looking for a feel-good escape, like The Parent Trap, or maybe you’re partial to poignant titles that paint a raw and honest portrait of divorce, like Marriage Story. Regardless, these stories are packed with life lessons and empowering characters that be cathartic as you navigate this difficult chapter.

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1. “Waiting to Exhale” (1995)

  • Cast: Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Lela Rochon, Loretta Devine, Gregory Hines
  • Rating: R
OK, so maybe the image of Bernadine (Bassett) lighting her soon-to-be ex-husband’s car on fire isn’t the best example to follow. Still, this romance classic, which revolves around four Black women who support each other as they deal with relationship drama, has a lot to say about aging, sexuality, single parenting and the importance of female friendships.

Watch on Hulu

2. “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, Jane Alexander
  • Rating: PG
Both Streep and Hoffman deliver stunning performances as Ted and Joanna Kramer, a married couple who goes through a bitter divorce and custody battle for their son. You’ll appreciate the fact that neither character is painted as the villain, but rather, both of their experiences and viewpoints are valued. Plus, it speaks to a number of relevant issues like single parenting and gender roles.

Watch on Prime Video

3. “The Parent Trap” (1998)

  • Cast: Dennis Quaid, Lindsay Lohan, Natasha Richardson
  • Rating: PG
Lohan shines as identical twins Hallie Parker and Annie James in this timeless classic. After a fateful meeting at summer camp, the duo hatch a plan to get their divorced parents back together—but that proves to be a challenge when their dad starts a fling with a gold digger named Meredith Blake (Elaine Hendrix).

Watch on Disney+

4. “The First Wives Club” (1996)

  • Cast: Eileen Heckart, Bronson Pinchot, Marcia Gay Harden
  • Rating: PG
When a member of their friend group commits suicide after learning that her ex-husband married has married a younger mistress, three middle-aged BFFs band together to seek revenge on their own husbands, who have ditched them for younger women. While it maintains a feel-good tone, it explores issues like infidelity and society’s ageist attitudes toward older women.

Watch on Prime Video

5. “It’s Complicated” (2009)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin
  • Rating: R
When Jane and Jake Adler (played by Streep and Baldwin), a divorced couple, reunite for their son’s college graduation ceremony, surprisingly, sparks begin to fly (again). As a result, they have a steamy secret affair—even though Jake is married and Jane started a new romance with her architect. Prepare for all the laughs.

Watch on Prime Video

6. “Gloria Bell” (2019)

  • Cast: Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Michael Cera
  • Rating: R
Moore is Gloria Bell, a carefree, divorced mom who spends her nights partying at L.A. dance clubs. But one night, after she hits it off with a charming fellow divorcée, she starts a more serious relationship. This film expertly addresses the challenges of balancing family with romantic partners—especially when there are adult children who aren't on board.

Watch on Prime video

7. “Definitely, Maybe” (2008)

  • Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Isla Fisher, Derek Luke, Abigail Breslin
  • Rating: PG-13
Explaining the decision to get a divorce to kids is no easy task, but Reynolds deftly navigates it in this fun and charming rom-com. The actor plays Will, a former political consultant who tries to walk his daughter through how he met her mother, and why their relationship ultimately ended. The catch? His daughter has to guess which woman in the story is her mom.

Watch on Prime Video

8. “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” (2011)

  • Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon
  • Rating: PG-13
Cal Weaver (Carell) is at a loss when his wife, Emily (Moore), reveals that she’s been having an affair and asks for a divorce. He promptly moves out and starts airing his frustrations at a local bar. And while there, he meets the womanizing Jacob Palmer (Gosling), who believes he can teach Cal a thing or two about picking up women. The results? Pure hilarity.

Watch on Netflix

9. “Mr. Wonderful” (1993)

  • Cast: Mary-Louise Parker, Matt Dillon, Annabella Sciorra
  • Rating: PG-13
Gus (Dillon) has dreams to start a business of his own, but because of his alimony payments to his ex-wife, he can’t afford to make it happen. He figures that if he can help her find another husband, it’ll take the financial burden off of him. But there’s just one issue with his plan: It seems that he and his ex-wife aren’t really over each other.

Watch on Prime Video

10. “Something’s Gotta Give” (2003)

  • Cast: Jack Nicholson, Vanna Bonta, Diane Keaton
  • Rating: PG-13
Erica (Keaton), a divorced playwright in her 50s, ends up living with an older playboy (also her daughter’s former boyfriend) after he suffers a heart attack at her penthouse. But as she nurses him back to health, they start to fall in love—even despite their opposite personalities.

Watch on Netflix

11. “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” (2005)

  • Cast: Kimberly Elise, Steve Harris, Shemar Moore, Tamara Taylor, Lisa Marcos
  • Rating: TV-14
As they say, everything that glitters is not gold. On the surface, Helen and Charles’s marriage appears to be perfect, but behind closed doors, Charles is unfaithful and abusive toward his wife. Even despite her efforts to save their marriage, Helen learns that Charles intends to file for divorce. And naturally, all hell breaks loose when Madea (Perry) learns about this.

Watch on hulu

12. “Enough Said” (2013)

  • Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener
  • Rating: PG-13
Clearly, Gandolfini can embody a vulnerable and endearing divorcée as easily as he can a vicious crime boss. In his final film, he plays Albert, but the movie’s really about his romantic partner, Eva (Louis-Dreyfus), a divorced single mom, who finds herself in a tough position when she becomes close friends with Albert’s ex-wife.

Watch on Prime Video

13. “Bye Bye Love” (1995)

  • Cast: Matthew Modine, Randy Quaid, Paul Reiser
  • Rating: PG-13
It’s always fascinating to see how divorces play out from the male perspective. Bye Bye Love follows three divorced men and fathers as they navigate the ups and downs of love, friendships and parenting. (Fun fact: Three of the movie’s stars, Amber Benson, Eliza Dushku and Lindsay Crouse, all later appeared in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

Watch on Hulu

14. “Marriage Story” (2019)

  • Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta
  • Rating: R
This Academy Award-winning drama follows a theater director and his wife as they go through the painful process of ending a 10-year marriage. Despite their best efforts to have an amicable split and keep the peace, for the sake of their son, this coast-to-coast divorce starts to put a serious strain on the family. (FYI, critics claim that Johansson and Driver delivered the best performances of their careers, so you don’t want to skip this one.)

Watch on Netflix

15. “Loveless” (2017)

  • Cast: Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin, Yanina Hope
  • Rating: R
In this heartbreaking film, a 12-year-old boy goes missing after witnessing his parents, who are going through a messy divorce, get into an intense fight. Despite their hostility toward each other, the parents have no choice but to team and find their son. The movie offers some powerful insight about what it’s like for kids who feel neglected or caught in the middle of a separation.

Watch on Amazon Prime

16. “Her” (2013)

  • Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pratt
  • Rating: R
This star-studded sci-fi film follows Theodore Twombly (Phoenix), a depressed and lonely man who’s reluctant to divorce his wife. To cope, he buys an operating system and immediately bonds with the artificially intelligent virtual assistant, Samantha (Johansson). But that friendship soon turns into something more.

Watch on Netflix

17. “Everything Must Go” (2010)

  • Cast: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Michael Pena
  • Rating: R
In less than a day, Nick Halsey (Ferrell) winds up losing his job and his wife, who leaves him because he has a drinking problem. After coming to terms with the fact that his life is falling apart, he decides to get a fresh start by having a massive yard sale and selling his possessions.

Watch on Prime Video

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