Family Law Focus – Cozen O'Connor

What We Can Learn From the Brangelina Divorce

Today  I was asked to comment on television about the hottest news, the Brangelina divorce.  If you haven’t heard, another celebrity couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are divorcing after 2 years of marriage and twelve years of living together prior to that.  They have six children together.

One of the major issues being discussed is Angelina Jolie’s request that she be awarded sole physical custody of the children with merely visitation being offered to Brad Pitt.  This is a highly unusual request in this day and age where most States recognize that both parents play an integral role in raising children, and while there is not always a stated presumption of equally shared custody for parents, there is definitely a move by most Courts to assuring that both parents are regularly involved in their children’s lives.  To limit a parent’s physical custody to merely visitation — which can mean a whole host of things – including infrequent time, no overnight time, even supervised time – there usually has to be a demonstration that more time with that parent would not be in the children’s best interests.  This can be due to misbehavior on the part of the parent that would be detrimental to the children or unavailability to provide the regular care for the children.  We do not know the specifics behind the claim being made here, but it will undoubtedly be talked about in the weeks to come.

Oftentimes, when a divorce is filed, parties make strong assertions that eventually are negotiated to a point where all parties are satisfied.  This is frequently the best course of action, not only in celebrity matters but all matters.  It is costly, both emotionally and financially to put sensitive issues such as custody in the hands of the Courts.  With the assistance of competent counsel, parties can usually arrive at a settlement that works for everyone, especially the children.  This is true in even the most contentious cases.  We will soon see whether it is the result in this one.


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