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Celebrity Docket - Brangelina: A Case of Déjà Vu

Let’s take a few minutes to break away from COVID-19 news and the presidential election. Cue the lights, camera, and craziness of the celebrity family law docket as we stroll to the faraway land of California:

The parties on today’s docket are Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Many of you remember that Angelina and Brad split in 2016 after two years of marriage and 12 years together. Since their split, they have had several high-conflict custody spats, both in and out of court about their six minor children (three adopted and three biological). According to celebrity news sources, namely The Sun, Angelina is trying to ban Jennifer Aniston from having any contact whatsoever with the minor children. Apparently, Jennifer and Brad are chumming it up again – on some level. If we pretend that the sources are indeed correct, that leave us with the following query: Can Angelina really file in court to have a judge ban a Jennifer from having contact with her children? Is that even a thing in custody cases, specifically with romantic partners of the other parent?

Well, we cannot speak for California, but if the parties were in Virginia, this would be an extraordinary remedy for a court to put in place given the present circumstances; however, she could file to have a judge make a ruling on the matter. In Virginia, when parents are exercising parenting time with their children, they can continue to live their lives, and to see and visit the people that are part of their lives when they are with their minor children. However, if one parent has a legitimate concern about their children’s safety and health (either physical or psychological) when the children are around a certain individual, like a romantic partner, this could affect custody through a court ruling. In this type of situation, a judge would want to hear specific and relevant evidence on this issue. For example, is this person or romantic partner a convicted domestic abuser? Does the person have prior Child Protective Services findings as an abuser or neglector of children? Does the person have a criminal conviction showing they are a potential risk to your children? These are just a few examples of when a judge might be willing to put reasonable parameters, or an all-out ban, on the contact between that person and your children.

Every case is different, of course. There also does not need to be a hearing to place protections around the children. Sometimes parents succeed with reaching an agreement on these types of issues by placing prohibitions in their custody and visitation orders, such as “the children shall not be left in the sole care of X individual” or “no overnight guests unless related by blood or marriage when the children are in the care of either party.”  

So, what’s the real reason Angelina doesn’t want Jennifer around the children when it is Brad’s parenting time? We may not know the exact motives, but we can guess... Whether Angelina will prevail in the California court is murky, and doubtful in light of what we know of the actual facts, i.e., Jennifer does not pose a risk to the minor children in a meaningful way; however, if you're considering requesting a modification to your custody and/or visitation order to address issues with the people frequently around your children, give us a call today at 757-226-9425, so we can discuss the unique facts of your case and empower you to make the best decisions for your future.

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