The Brangelina Split: An Atypical Divorce With Typical Issues
Although the matter is far from settled, the Brad Pitt – Angelina Jolie divorce appears to be headed towards at least a semi-amicable resolution.
Ms. Jolie filed suit only a few days after Mr. Pitt allegedly hit one of the family’s adopted children during a flight between Paris and Los Angeles. At a subsequent temporary hearing, a judge gave Ms. Jolie custody of the children and allowed Mr. Pitt to visit them, assuming that he avoids alcohol and drugs, stays in counselling, and complies with several other conditions. As for the couple’s estate, which is worth an estimated $440 million, there is a prenuptial agreement that reportedly covers most issues and has been reported by some as “ironclad.”
This is the third marriage for Ms. Jolie and the second one for Mr. Pitt.
Domestic Violence and Child Custody
As a practical matter, the court often takes these charges as seriously as the alleged victim takes them. That’s because, if there is a temporary hearing, the judge must make decisions based on little more than the parties’ testimony. Granted, there are sometimes third-party fact witnesses, such as friends or relatives, who are prepared to testify and bolster the case of one parent or the other. However, their testimony is often inadmissible hearsay, and even if they are permitted to testify, these witnesses typically have an understandable bias.
As a result, if the alleged victim obtained a separate protective order, the judge often assumes that the abuse charges are at least mostly true. If the alleged victim sought no such relief, or a protective order was denied, the judge often assumes that the allegations are at least mostly fabricated.
Essentially, at the protective order phase, alleged victims must either prove that they have been a victim of domestic abuse in the past or that they have a reasonable fear of future abuse. The former can come from a long list of predicate offenses; that list includes both violent and nonviolent offenses. If there is no prior history, and the alleged victim must establish reasonable fear, non-violent incidents like stalking and trespass are normally insufficient unless the alleged perpetrator made specific threats (e.g. “I know when you’re going to be in the parking garage by yourself”) or is potentially violent (e.g. has access to weapons).
Later, the judge typically orders a social services evaluation, and these reports receive a great deal of weight in custody and visitation decisions.
Property Division and Prenuptial Agreements
Both California and Florida have adopted the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act, so the same law applies in both states.
Premarital agreements are not just for the rich and famous. In fact, they are an excellent way to remove a potential source of conflict before it ever has a chance to cause tension. Spousal agreements can also cover other issues, like inheritance and succession questions; they cannot contain any provisions concerning child support or anything else that is against public policy.
To overturn a premarital agreement, the challenging spouse may rely on one of two theories:
- Involuntary: Prenuptial contracts are involuntary if one spouse withheld critical financial information and the other spouse had no other way to obtain this data.
- Unconscionable: The agreement must have been unconscionable when it was made, because subsequent events, like rising or falling stock prices, cannot invalidate a once-legitimate contract.
If one spouse physically coerced the other spouse into signing, such behavior might also be grounds for a successful challenge.
Count On Reliable Attorneys
Although every case is unique, many divorces have common legal issues. For prompt assistance with a marriage dissolution or other family law case, contact an aggressive Port St. Lucie attorney from Eighmie Law Firm, PA. Convenient payment plans are available.