On September 19, 2016, when the news that Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt hit the newspapers, the private details of their marriage – if there is such a phrase relevant to such high profile individuals- were splashed all over the tabloids. The Petition for divorce filed in California was printed for all to see, accompanied by various reporter’s articles replete with speculation as to the reasons for the split, and how the divorce will proceed. In an article on September 22, 2016 in the New York Post, the headline that captured the attention was “Why Angelina Jolie is seeking ‘physical custody’ of kids.” The theory alleged was that she intends “to move the whole brood out of Hollywood.” The couple have six children, and while the children have been subjected to the spotlight because of their famous parents during most of their lives, having your parents’ divorce and marital details aired so publicly, including the representation that they are going to be arguing over custody, just does not seem to be in the best interest of the kids.
By choosing to litigate their divorce, especially a custody dispute, they are exposing the issues of their divorce to the court records and due to their fame to a media frenzy. They are opting for an adversarial approach which can interfere with their abilities to co-parent, and the well-being of their children. The parties become subject to a Court’s schedule, to Court procedure and most importantly subject to a decision by a Judge, who is really a stranger making life-altering judgments for these six children and for the parties as well. Surely there is a better way – Collaborative Divorce.
In a Collaborative Divorce the parties agree not to go to court but instead agree to resolve all of their issues through negotiation. It is not an adversarial method, but instead is a team approach. Each party selects an attorney trained in the Collaborative Process. The team is completed with a neutral mental health professional to aid in communication and a neutral financial expert to expedite the handling of financial issues. If there are children involved, as in this case, a child specialist, may be added to the team. Divorcing through the Collaborative method keeps the parties out of court, and enables them to reach a divorce agreement by communicating and addressing the needs and interests of each other and their children.
Using the Collaborative Process would have, from the very onset, shielded Angelina, Brad and their six children from the immediate glare of the media because there would have been no petition filed to start the process. Outside of the Courts and the public eye they would have been able to negotiate the terms of their divorce and to provide together for the welfare and future of their children.
If Angelina and Brad used the Collaborative Process to divorce, the headline could have been: “Angelina and Brad Reach An Amicable Divorce Settlement Out Of Court, The Details Of Which Remain Private.”