Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.

Angelina Jolie could be headed for child custody battle

Most people in New Jersey have already heard of the recent split between actress Angelina Jolie and her husband, Brad Pitt. Like most parents, Jolie and Pitt already seem to be focused on child custody early on in the divorce process, but it has not necessarily been a pretty sight. Allegations of abuse seem to be fueling Jolie's insistence that she be granted primary custody of the couple's six children.

Pitt's local Department of Children and Family Services is, apparently, looking into a potential incident of abuse that occurred between him and a child. Although the DCFS could neither deny nor confirm the allegations because of current privacy laws, there are already concerns that the agency's involvement could impact custody arrangements during his divorce.  It is also assumed that the child involved in the incident was one of his own.

If the DCFS ultimately substantiated a claim of abuse, Jolie might expect to receive both physical and legal custody, which would allow her to not only retain primary custody of the children but to also make important decisions on their behalf. Contrary to popular believe, other areas of their divorce are unlikely to be affected in such instances. Property division, alimony and even child support are usually handled without taking either party's apparent behavior into consideration.

It is unclear if Jolie and Pitt will be able to handle their divorce in a timely manner. If not, child custody matters can usually be settled prior to the finalization of a divorce, although in some cases disagreements regarding custody can actually lengthen the process. When New Jersey parents disagree about their children's best interests, they can usually take the matter before a family law judge, who will take a variety of factors into consideration before issuing a decision.

Source: E! News, "How Brad Pitt's Child Abuse Allegations Could Impact His Divorce", McKenna Aiello and Beth Sobol, Sept. 22, 2016

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