Brad Pitt has been cleared of any wrongdoing following an investigation of a possible child abuse incident involving his eldest son, Maddox. Now that he’s been cleared, what will this determination mean for the child custody arrangement he has with estranged wife Angelina Jolie?
BRAD PITT CLEARED OF ANY WRONGDOING
The Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) cleared Brad Pitt of any wrongdoing following an investigation of an alleged incident of child abuse involving Pitt and his son, Maddox. The accusation was made just one day before estranged wife Angelina Jolie filed for divorce. The two were married for just two years.
According to her divorce paperwork, Jolie is seeking sole physical custody of the couple’s six children – Maddox, 15; Pax, 12; Zahara, 11; Shiloh, 10; and twins Knox and Vivienne, 8. Last week Pitt filed his response to Jolie’s divorce filing and requested joint custody of their children.
As part of their current agreement, which was created as just an initial “solve” following the divorce filing, Jolie has custody, while Pitt is allowed “therapeutic visits” with his children.
One of the hardest parts of the divorce process is, undoubtedly, figuring out child custody arrangements. When it comes down to making decisions, the court will always rule in the best interests of a child, even when those best wishes go against a parent’s wishes.
In California, the law provides judges with certain guidelines when it comes to child custody decisions. While a court will often favor joint custody, where both parents play a role in child-rearing, there are exceptions where shared parenting might not be possible. Therefore, there is an order of preference in place when it comes to child custody arrangements, as is demonstrated below:
- Joint custody
- Sole custody. In this instance, a judge will decide on the custodial parent.
- Non-parent custody. In this instance, a judge may rule it is best for a child to live with someone other than a parent.
- Suitable Persons
A judge will weigh all information provided regarding the parents and the child before awarding custody. Judges are also given broad discretion in cases, so that the child’s best interests are met. Additional Factors The California Family Code outlines what a judge will consider when deciding on child custody disputes. These various factors include:
- Child’s health and welfare
- Physical abuse
- History of violent crimes
- Parental drug or alcohol abuse
YOUR CHILD CUSTODY CASE
Child custody cases can get combative. Typically, both parents want equal time with their children. But all too often a parent will try to argue that the other parent isn’t fit to raise a child. Hise are some things you can do to protect yourself when entering a litigious child custody case.
When resolving child custody cases, if a parent is able to demonstrate how the other parent and the child or children interact, it can help prove their side of the case. Because of this, it’s advised to record everything, including:
- If the other parent does not follow or stick to a pre-arranged visitation schedule
- Any changes in the child or children’s behavior following the time they spend with the other parent
- If the other parent threatens legal action against you
- Any concern you have regarding the child or children’s physical well-being during the time they spend with the other parent
Documenting all these things is very important to building your case. But it should also be fairly documented, including any positive interactions. Being able to remove any emotions you have about the other parent will help you stay focused on creating an unbiased record. State the facts and try to keep the emotions out of it.
WHAT TO RECORD AND HOW-TO
Using a spiral notebook, Excel document, or any other form that will help you keep track of every interaction, note the following:
- Times of calls or visits
- Topics discussed (either between you or the other spouse or between the other spouse and your child or children). This does not have to mean an invasion of privacy, but if you’re able to get a gauge of what was discussed between your child or children and the other parent it only builds a stronger case
- Duration of phone call or visit
- Was the interaction spontaneous or part of a pre-arranged visitation schedule?
- How the child or children felt prior to the visit or call, as well as after
- Be consistent in your record keeping. If that means setting a daily time to record anything that has happened, then do so. Waiting days or weeks to record an interaction will make it difficult for you to remember specifics.
- Be neutral! Try to not let emotion get ahold of you.
- Research your state laws regarding auto recordings and telephone calls. In some jurisdictions, recording conversations is illegal.
- Work with a lawyer.
Family law courts favor awarding joint child custody to both parents, due to the fact that typically, it’s been shown that child’s respond best to both parents being in their lives.
JOINT CHILD CUSTODY
Joint custody is when two parents share decision-making responsibilities and / or physical control of the child or children they share. Joint custody is able to be awarded to parents that are divorced, separated, no longer living together, or even if they never lived together.
FORMS OF JOINT CHILD CUSTODY
There are different forms of joint custody that can be awarded, including:
- joint legal custody. This means both parents are able to make decisions regarding the child, including religion, education, medical, and any legal matters.
- joint physical custody. This means a child spends equal time with each parent.
- joint legal and physical custody.
While it’s a common practice for parents to share physical custody and legal custody, it’s not always the case that parents that share legal custody also share physical custody.
JOINT CHILD CUSTODY – ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to joint child custody. Children are able to have contact with both parents. Additionally, parents are able to share some of the hardships that come with co-parenting. But children also often have to be shuttled between parents in joint physical custody situations. This can be difficult on a child, especially if parents are noncooperative. Because of some of the disadvantages, it’s important that parents work to create a harmonious co-parenting situation. Maintaining detailed agreements surround holidays, expenses for clothing and medical care, as well as creating a child’s own space in each household is crucial to creating a successful joint custody arrangement.
WORKING WITH A DIVORCE AND CHILD CUSTODY ATTORNEY
If you are facing a divorce or a potentially difficult child custody case, you should work with a family law attorney that can take a look at your specific situation and give you advice based on it, rather than approach it with a one size fits all mindset. Your specific situation will be particular to you and your marriage and the way your life was set up during the marriage. This might mean major financial decisions regarding retirement funds, property, child support and custody, and alimony. A divorce attorney will work with you to help you decide how you want to tackle these elements of your marriage and divorce, while also providing guidance and support. They will be able to lead you through the process while keeping you from procrastination and caving into pressure. They’ll also be able to help ensure you meet all the required timelines while ensuring that you get a fair case and trial should you need to go to court. Lastly, they’ll be able to help you find the freedom and new life you are seeking – one that is entirely on your terms.
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