Lessons to Learn from the #Brangelina #Divorce

Sept. 21, 2016

  1. The court does not care that your ex cheated. Angelina filed for divorce “citing irreconcilable differences,” but a source reports that Angelina “learned through a private eye that [Brad] may have been cheating on her…” Angelina cited irreconcilable differences because California (like Kansas) is a no-fault divorce state. This means that the court does not consider blame in divorce cases; nor is infidelity a factor that the (Kansas) court considers in custody cases.
  2. Your Facebook posts will hurt your case. A source reports that “Brad’s main concern at this time is his children. ‘He does not want them reading anything negative in the press about himself or their mother.’ One of the factors the court considers in (Kansas) custody cases is the willingness of each parent to respect the other parent’s bond with the children. When a parent posts negative things about the other parent on social media or makes negative statements about them in front of the children, or when their family or friends do so, this shows a disregard for the children’s relationship with that parent. While Brad is demonstrating good co-parenting abilities with his statements, a “long-time friend” of Brad and Angelina is telling the media that Brad has “anger issues and substance abuse issues” and “yell[s] at the kids.” While these allegations may be true, Angelina should tell her friend to save it for court.
  3. When you accept legal responsibility for a child, you are that child’s father forever. Eight years before their marriage, Brad adopted two of Angelina’s children. Regardless of whether a couple stays married (or were ever married), when a person adopts a child (or legally acknowledges paternity of a child), that person will always be the child’s legal father and be legally responsible for supporting that child (unless the child is later adopted by someone else). Clients frequently ask if a parent can “sign away their rights.” While one parent can be granted sole legal custody, the other parent’s rights will not be terminated (unless the court terminates their rights through a juvenile Child In Need of Care case). This means that Brad will be responsible for paying child support for the children that he has adopted, and that Brad will be entitled to parenting time with those children.
  4. The length of the marriage matters. Although Brad and Angelina began dating in early 2005, they did not get married until August 2014. Among other factors, the court considers the length of the marriage in determining spousal support, and the division of retirement accounts, and other assets.
  5. Drug use will destroy your custody case. “A source claims that [Angelina] became ‘fed up’ with [Brad’s] consumption of ‘weed and possibly alcohol’…” Many people do not realize that the family law court orders hair follicle testing when there are allegations of drug use. If the results of the testing are positive for illegal drugs, that parent will likely be granted only supervised parenting time until they have undergone drug treatment and submitted negative drug test results. It is important to remember that, while marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes in 24 states, it is still illegal for recreational purposes in 46 states (including Kansas and California).
  6. Don’t jump to conclusions before you have reviewed your court paperwork with an attorney. Your attorney will interpret the legal terms and let you know which parts of the paperwork you should be concerned about. Headlines shout that “Brad Pitt has warned Angelina Jolie he is ready to fight for joint custody of their children.” In fact, Angelina actually requests in the court paperwork that the parties be granted joint legal custody. Either Brad, or the media, are confused about the definition of joint legal custody, which applies to the right to make decisions for the children. What Brad probably means to be fighting for is shared residential placement, which would consist of the children spending an equal amount of time with both parents.
Sources: “Angelina Jolie files for divorce from Brad Pitt.” CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/20/entertainment/angelina-jolie-brad-pitt-divorce/. “‘I'll fight you for the kids': 'Furious' Brad Pitt attacks Angelina over bitter divorce paper claims that he's a 'bad dad with anger and alcohol issues' - but Jolie tells him: 'I just can't do this anymore.’” Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3798552/Angelina-Jolie-files-divorce-Brad-Pitt-12-years-asks-custody-sixchildren.html?utm_content=bufferda9c6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
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