Litigating over child arrangements is ‘the Pitts’

My colleagues and clients will be able to testify that I’m not an advocate of the family court process when it comes to disputes over how children should spend their time between their parents. It’s unfit for purpose, a sledge-hammer to crack a nut, and unless there are serious safeguarding issues or a history of domestic abuse, I firmly believe that it’s not the right way for parents to resolve their issues. In fact, it doesn’t tend to resolve them at all, and in my experience parents whose child arrangements are determined by the court and do not reach an agreement even during the proceedings, tend to find themselves back in front of the magistrates (as it is generally lay magistrates that now hear these disputes) on multiple occasions over the years until their children are teenagers – just like Brad and Angelina. 

So what are the alternative options for parents that cannot agree and are considering court proceedings? Family therapy (whether attending together or separately), mediation, independent social worker support, and if needs be, appointing a private arbitrator, are all far better options to be explored first.   

Brad Pitt has been granted joint custody of his children with Angelina Jolie following a lengthy court battle.

Ms Jolie filed for divorce in 2016 and the pair have since been engaged in a custody battle largely shielded from public view.

A private judge hired to oversee the case, John Ouderkirk, ruled in Mr Pitt's favour.

The ruling would 'significantly increase' his time with the children, a source told the Press Association.

Mr Pitt, 57, and Ms Jolie, 45, are parents to Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 14 and 12-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox.