Last week, Jon and Kate Gosselin both took to social media to wish their sextuplets a happy 16th birthday, but fans of the reality TV family shouldn’t mistake that shared sentiment for a united front from the exes.
While they both had kind words for their kids, according to Jon, he and his former "Jon & Kate Plus 8" co-star don’t have any words for each other.
"I don’t hear from Kate,” the 43-year-old father revealed in an interview with ET. “It’s just totally like that person doesn’t exist anymore."
“That person” was, of course, his wife of 10 years before their divorce in 2009, and in addition to having sextuplets together, they’re also the parents of 19-year-old twins. But the parents aren’t the only ones divided these days.
While Kate has custody of four of the minor children — Aaden, Joel, Alexis and Leah — Jon has custody of two — Collin and Hannah — with the respective children estranged from the other parent and, essentially, from the other siblings, too.
"I wish that all my kids would just be together, hang out together, go to the mall. Just hang out together," Jon said of the unfortunate situation. "Kate and I don’t live that far away from each other, but I feel like there is an invisible wall. (The kids) should be able to just get together. I have no qualms about it. If they want to go meet each other, go ahead. I feel like it’s more on the other side."
But now that the kids are 16, he hopes that they won’t let either of their parents stand in the way of a reunion with each other. In fact, in a February chat with the First Class Fatherhood podcast, he said that the simple act of getting driver’s licenses could make all the difference for the big brood.
“As soon as my two kids that live with me drive, they have every right to go drive to their siblings’ school, pick the kids up, and Kate can’t stop them,” he said. “I’m hoping that will break down a lot of tension between siblings.”
During his interview with ET, Jon also reflected on his own relationships — beyond those with his kids — and circumstances in the wake of reality TV fame and divorce.
"I just learned a lot of lessons about people,” he said. “I’ve had great relationships, bad ones. I've had a lot of lessons along the way. Poor financial decisions and good ones. I have grown and am happy where I am now."
And where he’s at now is with his partner of nearly six years, Colleen Conrad. The couple lives together, with Collin and Hannah and Conrad’s children, too.
But as for taking their relationship to the next level, Jon says he isn’t so sure about becoming a married man again.
"I know people talk about marriage. We’ll just keep circling the drain with marriage stuff," he explained. "We live together, have many things together and we definitely have a blended family in all sense of that word."