Deciding who gets custody of children during a divorce is often one of the most contested family law issues in a Washington divorce. Ideally, parents should try to create a parenting plan together, agreeing on the finer points such as physical and legal custody and visitation. Generally, courts tend to accept the arrangement parents make, as long as they are fair and in the children’s best interests. If the divorcing couple is unable to agree, then the court has to step in and make decisions for them.
As the long drawn out divorce of Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie has demonstrated, when couples are unable to agree on issues, the matter tends to become prolonged and children become involved in the conflict. Most recently, the judge presiding on their case has declined to let a minor child testify with regards to a child custody issue. While Jolie believes the child’s experiences are relevant to the decision, the judge has disagreed and given his decision accordingly.
Jolie sought primary physical custody at the beginning of divorce proceedings four years ago and Pitt asked for joint child custody. According to Jolie, Pitt was abusive towards one of their children but an investigation found otherwise. Since then, Jolie has been fighting for sole custody of her children, but it is unclear what custody arrangement is in place right now.
Jolie and Pitt’s experiences demonstrate that regardless of what one’s celebrity status is, the family law system is difficult and overwhelming to navigate. While some couples may be able to negotiate many of their issues amicably, this is not the case for everyone. With divorces, there is no one solution that fits everyone and an experienced attorney can discuss one’s options with them.