'Brangelina' divorce hints at deep divide over children

Pitt-Jolie custody battle escalates

Hollywood ‘power couple’ Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are to divorce, according to reports.

Jolie has reportedly filed for divorce citing “irreconcilable differences”. It is understood that Jolie, who met Pitt on the set of the 2004 film, ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’, is pursuing custody of each of their children, Maddox, 14, Pax, 12, Zahara, 11, Shiloh, 10 and twins Vivienne and Knox, seven.

A legal representative for the actress said that she had filed the papers to dissolve the marriage for ‘the health of the family’, with reports suggesting the decision was motivated by Pitt’s ‘bad parenting’ or even ‘substance abuse’. The date of separation is given as 15 September 2016 – only two years on from their marriage in 2014.

The apparent dispute over the care of the children has led some to speculate that the divorce could be a ‘tabloid friendly, child unfriendly’ custody battle, but sources close to the pair have asserted that both sides want an amicable break-up.

Mike Devlin, Head of Family Law at the law firm Stephensons, said: “In cases such as this, where there are obviously irreconcilable differences between the two parties over how best to bring up the children, finding agreement on who will have access to those children – as well as when and where – is likely to be incredibly difficult.

“It would appear that Angelina feels very strongly that Brad should not have equal time with his children and that any so-called ‘child arrangement agreement’ should be heavily in her favour.

“Were this case to be heard in an UK family court, the two parties would be expected to have pursued a programme of mediation with a view to resolving these issues amicably. To do so would certainly be in the best interests of the children, given it could avoid a lengthy and embittered dispute in court.

“However, were such attempts to fail, the court would only be concerned with the best interests of the children – not merely the wishes of any individual party. As such, regardless of Angelina’s views on Brad’s ability to meet his parental responsibilities, it would be for the court to decide as to who the children would live and spend time with and this is not necessarily always the mother.

“In the UK a family court will – where possible – promote a child’s ongoing relationship with both parents. However, a judge will consider a number of factors including keeping the children in a stable environment, maintaining a relationship with extended family members and school arrangements.”