The biggest question: what will happen to the couple’s six children?
Jolie filed for sole physical custody of the children: Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Knox, Vivienne, and Shiloh. She also asked the judge to allow Pitt to have joint legal custody and visitation rights, according to TMZ.
This means that she wants the children to live with her, but Pitt and her would make major decisions about the kids’ future together, and Pitt would be allowed to see them.
Pitt can accept those terms, or her may file his own claim on the children, resulting in a different arrangement.
To decide how the children will be split up, the court will likely consider the distinctly different backgrounds of each of the Jolie-Pitt children, according to Raoul Felder, a top divorce attorney who’s been involved in cases that have involved celebrities like Rudy Giuliani, Martin Scorsese, Mike Tyson, and Tom Clancy. The judge may also consider allegations that Pitt was abusive toward his children and Jolie’s past health issues.
According to TMZ and People, the Los Angeles Police Department and the LA County Department of Children and Family Services is investigating Pitt for being “verbally abusive and physical with his children.” The Los Angeles Police Department, however, denied that they’re investigating Pitt.
“If there’s any evidence at all about it, this is obviously pertinent about someone’s capability to be with children,” Felder said.
As for Jolie, her surgeries could work against her. She had a double-mastectomy and surgery that removed her ovaries and fallopian tubes as preventative measures against breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Pitt’s lawyers might argue that Jolie doesn’t have the physical stamina to take care of six children.
“It’s unpleasant to have to talk about it, but that’s a question that could come up,” Felder said.
As for the children themselves, the court will have to decide on a form of custody and visitation that’s in “the best interest” for each child.
Each child has a different background. Three are adopted from other countries, and three are biologically theirs, two of which are twins. Because their histories are so divergent, the court might find Jolie better than Pitt at handling a particular child’s issues, or vice versa.
The twins will likely be considered together because their backgrounds are similar, Felder said. With the other four children, that makes five different “interests” to protect in total.
“It’s bad enough if you have two children, born of a marriage,” Felder said. “But let’s say you have two children who were adopted at different times, it gets worse. Here, you have six children!”
The court is going to have a psychiatric evaluation of everyone involved. With six children from various backgrounds, it’s going to take a long time, Felder said. The court might have to get special psychiatric evaluators that have expertise in the countries where each child was raised. That way, the court can figure out each child’s individual needs, and use that information to decide which parent is best at handling them.
Will Jolie’s international humanitarian work help her case? Felder doesn’t think so.
“I think judges take people as they find them,” he said. “I don’t think they’d be impressed with that at all. I think she’ll bring it up, though.”
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