The Interesting Legal Issues Surrounding the Brangelina Divorce

The Interesting Legal Issues Surrounding the Brangelina Divorce Georges Biard [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As most of the world knows by now, Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, her husband of two years with whom she has been in a relationship since 2004. Aside from being celebrities, the legalities surrounding their divorce are interesting for many reasons.

Here is a brief look at some of the noteworthy legal issues involved in the divorce:

  • Brad Pitt has been accused of substance abuse. As we covered in a previous blog, accusations of substance abuse can have a significant impact on the outcome of a divorce or child custody case. According to various online news sources, Angelina became “fed up” with Pitt’s consumption of alcohol and marijuana. Combined with what she believes to be an “anger problem,” she claims that Pitt was a danger to their six children. She claims that her decision to divorce was to “protect the health of the family.”
  • Brad Pitt has been accused of infidelity. In addition to the substance abuse and anger accusations, Brad Pitt has also been accused of cheating on Jolie with actress Marion Cotillard. While this accusation has been denied, the fact is that because California is a no-fault divorce state, the Court is not actually concerned with whether infidelity played a role in the divorce. In fact, it’s completely irrelevant when it comes to splitting assets and determining child support and custody. However, Jolie may be able to use this as leverage when negotiating a settlement, especially if a pre-nuptial agreement exists that makes mention of infidelity. Infidelity may affect the outcome of the case, but only in subtle ways.
  • Angelina Jolie is seeking sole physical custody of the couple’s six children. The biggest legal issue in this divorce is that Jolie is seeking sole physical custody of the couple’s six children – three of whom are adopted and three of whom are the couple’s biological children. What this means is that she is requesting that the children live with her and only visit with Pitt. This is highly unusual considering that Jolie and Pitt have been very public about co-parenting their children. While Pitt would still be able to be involved in making decisions regarding the children’s upbringing, the children would not be allowed to live with him, and if the Court feels that his substance abuse and anger issues are serious enough, he may only be able to visit with them with supervision. Jolie will have the burden of proving why having the children live with her is in the best interests of the children.

Unfortunately, the cost of celebrity is often that private matters are anything but private. We sincerely hope that Jolie and Pitt can find peace in this situation and that their divorce can be resolved as amicably as possible to preserve the well-being of their family.

For questions about divorce, we invite you to contact a Portland divorce lawyer at McKinley Irvin.