The child custody battle between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is set to go to a trial next month because the parents can’t agree about the future of their six children after two years of litigating.
According to USA Today, the couple could still reach an agreement out of court and put the messy breakup of their family behind them, but lately their ability to see eye-to-eye seems to have deserted them.
The two stars’ legal teams have been in negotiations since September 2016, when Jolie filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences and “the health of the family” after 12-years together, two of those years in what we later learned wasn’t wedded bliss.
Their custody dispute comes down to this: She wants sole physical custody of their six kids, ranging in age from 10 to 17; he wants to share physical custody.
According to a document filed Monday in Los Angeles County’s Family Court, Pitt and Jolie have asked for an extension to June 30, 2019, on the appointment of retired Judge as a temporary “private” judge in their case.
He has handled all pre-trial issues and motions and will preside over the custody trial, scheduled for Dec. 4, likely behind closed doors and not at a public courthouse.
Sole Child Custody
The question about an award of sole custody of children frequently comes up and is a matter I’ve written about before. Many people are surprised to learn that the term “custody” is no longer recognized in Florida.
Florida replaced the “custody” term for the “parenting plan” concept in order to avoid labeling parents as “visiting parent” or “primary parent” in the hopes of making child custody issues less controversial.
Under Florida’s parenting plan concept, both parents enjoy shared parental responsibility and a time-sharing schedule. “Shared parental responsibility” means both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities and have to confer with each other so that major decisions affecting their child are made jointly.
A time-sharing schedule, as the name suggests, is simply a timetable that is included in the parenting plan that specifies the times, including overnights and holidays, that your child spends with each parent.
Florida’s parenting plan concept has changed sole custody into “sole parental responsibility.” The term means that only one parent makes decisions regarding the minor child, as opposed to the shared parental responsibility terms, where both parents make decisions jointly.
How do you get sole custody in Florida?
Sole parental responsibility, or sole custody as people generally call it, has been made more difficult to obtain. Florida’s public policy is for each child to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after a divorce.
Because of Florida’s public policy, courts order shared parental responsibility unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.
In those cases where detriment is proved, the court orders sole parental responsibility to one parent, with or without time-sharing with the other parent, if it is in the best interests of the minor child.
World War Z?
The couple have had a bitter divorce that has been frequently in the news. In November 2017, Jolie claimed she and Pitt had reached an interim custody agreement in which she would continue to have sole physical custody of the kids. But Pitt immediately disputed that.
In June 2018, a judge warned Jolie that if she didn’t start encouraging the children to forge relationships with Pitt, she could be in danger of losing custody.
Then in August 2018, a Jolie bombshell: she accused Pitt of not paying “meaningful” child support. Pitt hit back, arguing he’s paid over $1.3m in bills for her and the children.
All of this makes matrimonial lawyers despair:
Do they want their children to say “My mom and dad kept it between themselves and just let us know how much they loved us and always supported our relationship with the other parent, or My mother hated my father and let us all know it?”
The USA Today article is here.