Jon and Kate Gosselin Split: 'Reality Has Come to Reality TV'

Parenting experts say split will be hard; urge couple to focus on co-parenting.

ByABC News
June 22, 2009, 4:10 PM

June 23, 2009 — -- The separation of Jon and Kate Gosselin, stars of TLC's "Jon and Kate Plus 8," will be difficult for their children, parenting experts told "Good Morning America."

"Kate and I have decided to separate," said Jon Gosselin in Monday's episode.

"Yes, we have decided that we will separate," echoed Kate Gosselin.

Ten minutes before the conclusion of the episode, text ran over the screen stating, "On Monday June 22, 2009, legal proceedings were initiated in Pennsylvania to dissolve the 10-year marriage of Jon and Kate Gosselin."

In divorce papers obtained by The Associated Press, Kate said the marriage was "irretrievably broken." She also said that they have not yet been able to agree on how to divide their joint assets.

The word "divorce" was never once uttered during the 60-minute program. Kate said her biggest fear was "the label that we failed. How that will affect our kids, how they'll be another statistic."

"GMA" parenting contributor Ann Pleshette Murphy said the split would pose "a real challenge" and represent "a really hard time for the kids."

She said that it can be difficult for 5-year-olds like the Gosselin sextuplets "to have the cognitive ability to understand" the situation, and that the older children could struggle with feelings of shame.

"Some real reality has come to reality television," said relationship expert Terry Real. Noting that 40 percent of marriages end in divorce, he also said the Gosselins have "an opportunity to be real role models. … We can watch them put their egos aside and be good co-parents. America's never really seen that."

Filmed separately during Monday's show, Jon and Kate both discussed their feelings about the decision to split up.

"It's life, it's a roller coaster, it's the way it happens," said Jon. "Sometimes you just go off the tracks."

He went on to say that the separation was a "shame" and that he would always love Kate, the mother of his children.

"I'm excited as well because I have a new chapter in my life," added Jon, who said he was still unsure of what the future will hold.

Real said Jon Gosselin let his wife "kind of wear the pants in the family."

One of the open secrets of couple's therapy, he said, is that "a lot of men are afraid of their wives; a lot of men are passive."

"When you do find your voice, I want you to bring that voice back into the relationship," Real said. "Unfortunately, a lot of people wait too long."

Kate, who was crying through most of the episode, admitted she was "not fond" of the idea of a separation but that she saw no other choice.

"It's a fork in the road and goals are different now," she said. "But I don't hate him. Never have, never will. He's the father for my children. They're great kids. The best."

Despite Jon's assertion that he still loves her, Kate said that he won't even speak to her now.