Since Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt announced their divorce in 2016 after a 12-year relationship, they have been involved in a lengthy child custody dispute. After court documents were leaked to the press, entertainment news reported that Jolie may be in danger of losing primary custody of their children.
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, celebrities are just like everybody else, and have the same issues and difficulties with divorce and child custody as we do. Back in June, The Blast obtained the court documents from a child custody hearing in Jolie and Pitt’s divorce case. All separating or divorced couples should take the time to read this summary, to (hopefully) avoid the same pitfalls even the seemingly best of parents can fall into so easily.
Ensure your children have a healthy relationship with both parents during an ongoing split. The court documents—and the entertainment media—make it clear that Jolie and Pitt no longer have an amicable relationship. However, it also appears that Jolie is in danger of losing physical custody of the children (Maddox, Shiloh, Pax, Vivienne, Knox, and Zahara) if she continues to keep them from Pitt.
Judges are typically unsympathetic to these sorts of tactics, and tend to view a parent who blocks the other parent from seeing their children as vindictive. According to court documents, the judge stated, “It was critical that each of them have a healthy and strong relationship with their father and mother.”
Children must have regular communication with both parents. The judge also ordered that the children have access to their own phones and have regular phone calls with their father, to ensure positive relationships with him. However, the judge also laid out specific orders:
- Jolie must allow Pitt to call the children whenever he wants
- Jolie is prohibited from reading the children’s texts
- Jolie may not monitor their phone calls
For a judge to outline rules like this, we can assume that she has been attempting to interfere with the children’s relationship with their father.
Don’t take the kids too far away from the other parent without an approved visitation plan. For her film “Maleficent 2,” Jolie had to shoot in London for four weeks and planned to bring the children with her. Pitt was unhappy with this arrangement and requested a court-appointed schedule, renting a flat in London so he could spend quality time with the children. Jolie was barred from being present at those times. A child therapist was also present when the children were with Pitt during summer visits.
The court also stated, “If the minor children remain closed down to their father and depending on the circumstances surrounding this condition, it may result in a reduction of the time they spend with [Jolie] and may result in the Court ordering primary physical custody to [Pitt].”
If you are a divorcing parent
Celebrity or not, the message here is clear—any attempt to sabotage your children’s relationship with their other parent will never be taken lightly by the court. Child custody decisions are made in the children’s best interests, not the parents’. If the court decides the child is better off having a healthy relationship with both parents, no matter how you feel about it, those are the rules.
Can you relate to the Jolie-Pitt situation? Are you having child custody issues of your own and need help? The Nashville family law attorneys at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC are here for you. Our skilled legal team is well-versed in divorce law and can answer all of your questions. We want to help you and your family. Please call 615-391-4200 or use our contact form to schedule an in-person or video consultation.
Karla C. Miller has devoted her entire career to the practice of family law in Tennessee. She attended Auburn University and Nashville School of Law, and upon graduation in 1996, she opened her own law firm and has been assisting families throughout Tennessee since then. Learn more about Karla C. Miller here.