The custody case between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is making headlines as the custody battle between both the stars is just heating up with new restrictions a judge ordered for Angelina’s involvement in Brad’s Pitt’s interaction with the now ex-couple’s six kids.
The actress could lose primary custody of their six children if she doesn’t do anything to improve their relationship with their star dad, according to court documents obtained by People. A judge said in the documents in the ongoing divorce case of the high-profile couple that “it is critical that each of [the six] children have a healthy and strong relationship with their father and mother,” and that the actress must allow Brad to repair and maintain the relationship.
David Glass, who is a family law attorney and is not involved in the case, told People that it “is extremely rare” to see intervene of the court in this way, though the court typically do so after an extensive evaluation and to stop kids from being alienated from their one parent.
Glass, who has had no access to the court documents, said, “It looks like what this judge was weighing was the difference between estrangement and alienation.”
“The difference there is, estrangement is when children aren’t connected to one of the parents, mainly because of something that parent did. So a hypothetical, if dad screams and yells at the kids and doesn’t treat them nicely, the kids stop wanting to see dad, that’s estrangement,” he said. “An alienation refers to where children have been told by the other parent that the parent they’re not seeing is bad, or doesn’t like them, or doesn’t care about them. Just talking badly about the other parent and the kids start to internalize what the other parent is telling them. In alienation cases, kids will typically just repeat words that are beyond their years, or they will repeat reasons that they don’t possibly have access to the information.”
He went on to say, “It’s a rare case where the court will find that someone alienated the kids. It takes a lot to move the court past estrangement into alienation, but once it’s determined that one parent is alienating the kids, the court has no choice but to jump in and make pretty strong orders right away.”
The court document also pointed out certain steps Angelina should take to aid Brad’s access to and relationship with their children, which also include a detailed summer visitation schedule, and easy access of phone between Brad and each of the children, without any monitoring or interference from the actress. According to Glass, the new guidelines’ goal is to “try to figure out what’s in the children’s best interest.”
“The schedule worked out by the court is the typical post-alienation reunification schedule,” Glass said. “You see them a couple hours a day and that starts leading to full days and eventually if things go well it leads to overnights, so you’re slowly acclimating the kids to the parent who’s been cut out of the kids lives.”
The children have to continue to see their therapist with their father Brad, which is a positive step according to Glass.
He said, “That’s the first good news, that the kids are in therapy and that dad is somehow involved in the therapy. That’s where the kids can work out whatever issues they have. It’s that continuing contact with dad … all those little pieces that eventually lead to some sort of reunification with their dad.”
The 43-year-old Angelina filed for divorce from the 54-year-old Brad on September 19, 2016. The couple shares six children together — 9-year old twins Vivienne and Knox, Shiloh, 12, Zahara, 13, Pax, 14, and Maddox, 16.