Earlier this week, it was announced that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are getting divorced, and the internet went crazy. There were articles on all of the news outlets websites, memes and jokes about how happy Jennifer Aniston must be, and rampant speculation about the causes of the divorce: did Brad cheat? Is he an alcoholic? Etc., etc., etc. What no one mentioned is that these are two people who are likely going through one of the most difficult times in their lives, and who have 6, that’s right, SIX minor children. What happens to the kids in all of this?
We hear about celebrity divorces so often, that it is almost as if they are not real to us “regular” people. When one of our family members or friends announces a divorce, we reasonably react with sympathy, support and worries about the kids. Yet, when a celebrity announces a divorce, we seem to forget that they are actual people, with feelings, and with assets and debts that need to be divided, and children whose best interests need to be considered – children who will certainly be impacted by the separation of their parents and will now be dividing time between those parents, rather than living with both parents as a family. Simply because they are celebrities, does not make them immune to the difficulties involved in a divorce, both emotional and legal.
For example, it was reported that Angelina Jolie has requested sole custody of the children. When news like that is reported, it comes with such drama. But, in reality, a request for custody and visitation orders involves procedural requirements, court appearances, and in a Santa Clara County divorce case, mandatory mediation requirements. Further, a request for sole custody of children in California, and in Santa Clara County specifically, is a big deal. The courts are not likely to grant such a request unless the parent requesting sole custody can show that the other parent poses a significant threat to the children’s health, safety or welfare. This is because children have a right to frequent and continuous contact with both parents.