Hollywood: The world in which the rich and famous go out to play. Often idolised, often derided but very rarely ignored, it is all too easy to forget that Hollywood’s megastars are just human beings with human relationships, after all.
Yesterday, as the news hit the press of Angelina Jolie filing for divorce and ending her 11-year relationship, and 2-year marriage with prolific heart throb, Brad Pitt, it served as a reminder that the paparazzi glow does not protect its subjects from the ups and downs we all experience with family life. A breakdown in relationship will never be easy, not even for the world’s favourite power couple.
Rumours are rife about the reason for the ‘Brangelina’ divorce. Brad’s alleged marijuana habit and a clash of superstar egos have been touted, but reports suggest that the cause is something altogether more down to earth: the parenting of their six children. And whilst the couple’s net assets of some $400 million might capture headlines, as Brad said: “what matters most now is the wellbeing of our kids.”
Angelina is reportedly seeking physical custody of the children. As she sees it, Brad should be restricted to visitation rights and having a say in the key decisions to be made in his children’s lives.
The terminology “custody” and “visitation rights” do not exist in English law. So how would this play out in this country?
Firstly, in the case of a divorce, both parents will almost always have parental responsibility by virtue of having had their children either before or during their marriage. This means that they will both still have a crucial say in the decisions affecting their child’s life.
Secondly, the practicalities of parenting after the split must be addressed. Arrangements must be made to establish which parents the children will live with and at which times. As a starting point, both parents should be involved, and this principle is set out in the Children Act 1989: A court is to presume, unless the contrary is shown, that involvement of a parent in the life of a child will further the child’s welfare. The guiding principle on this will always be the children’s best interests.
It will always be preferable for parents to resolve these matters without the interference of lawyers and courts. If that cannot be avoided, the courts can make a child arrangements order setting out the details of the children’s care.
Whilst it might seem like Hollywood megastars live on another planet at times, the fundamental love for our children is the same, regardless of our backgrounds. The need for swift and sustainable resolutions to children disputes is, and should always be a priority. It will certainly always be so for us here at Maguire Family Law.