Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s ongoing dispute about their child custody arrangement has been circulating tabloids for weeks. Since filing for divorce in 2016, Ms. Jolie has had primary custody of their six children. This seems to have changed recently, when the media reported that Mr. Pitt had won a shared custody schedule for the summer. While we don’t know all the facts, there are some key lessons that other divorced and separated parents can learn from this situation.
Jolie-Pitt Divorce Became Emotionally Charged
Reports indicate that the Jolie-Pitt divorce has been difficult and contentious from the start. To make matters worse, Mr. Pitt was involved in a well-publicized incident on an airplane in 2016, involving one of his children. While the FBI and Child Protective Services’ investigations did not report evidence of abuse or criminal conduct, Ms. Jolie demanded primary custody of the children.
Reports indicate that psychologists and counselors were involved in the initial custody plan. While Mr. Pitt was able to communicate with his children, it appears that his face-to-face contact with them was very limited for a period of time.
Both Parents Stopped Communicating With Each Other After the Divorce
Due to the acrimony of the divorce, it appears that Mr. Pitt and Ms. Jolie have had very limited interactions. Some reports indicate that even a visitation hand-off caused the actors to seek counseling and therapy, due to the tension between them.
While it’s understandable that estranged spouses need time to cool off after a divorce, children benefit from civility. Kids are exceptionally good observers, but struggle to understand the meaning behind what they see. Volatile interactions between parents can lead children to blame themselves, resent their parents, and feel overwhelming confusion and isolation.
It certainly appears that the Jolie-Pitt children received better mental health care during their parents’ divorce than many children. However, this doesn’t minimize the hurt that poor communication, hostility, and tension can cause.
At the Law Office of A. Sam Jubran, we encourage divorcing couples to attempt alternative dispute resolution — negotiating the terms of a parenting time agreement that enable amicable co-parenting and ease hard feelings. While this isn’t always possible, we do our best to help our clients focus their attention on their child’s best interests — and not their personal grudges against their ex or their bruised egos.
You Can Modify Child Custody Orders When Your Circumstances Change
Over time, it appears that Mr. Pitt became dissatisfied with their child custody arrangement. In a hearing, it appears that a judge sided — at least temporarily — with Mr. Pitt. Leaked information reports that a recent court order gave him unrestricted phone access to his children and a shared custody schedule for the summer. The Pitt-Jolie children will split their time between Los Angeles and London, spending time with both of their parents.
The judge also ordered Ms. Jolie to tell their children that “the court has determined that not having a relationship with their father is harmful to them, and that they are “safe with their father.” It appears that the judge emphasized the importance of children having strong relationships with both of their parents.
It is worth noting that Ms. Jolie is not happy with the public interest in their child custody arrangement. Her representative commented to CNN, “This misleading leak is not in the best interests of the children. It is deplorable that someone, for their own selfish reasons, leaked selective portions of the confidential and sealed court record to create an inaccurate and unfair picture of what is really happening.” CNN does note that the child custody order was legally obtained and was not sealed.
While we might not know the whole story behind Mr. Pitt and Ms. Jolie’s shared custody arrangement, it seems that the judge decided there was a material change in their circumstances. In most states, a child custody arrangement or order will not be modified unless you can prove that the family’s circumstances have changed significantly and a modification is in the best interests of the children.
Proving a change in circumstances is difficult, unless you have help from a skilled family law attorney. If you want to modify your child custody arrangement or transition to a shared custody schedule, it’s in your best interest to consult with a lawyer. A family law attorney can help you assess the strength of your claim, compile your evidence, and present it to the judge.
Do You Need Help With a Shared Custody Schedule?
The Law Office of A. Sam Jubran, P.A. assists Jacksonville parents with parenting time and child custody issues. If you would like a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, contact us today.