The divorce of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt has attracted national attention.
News about the couple’s finalized divorce is expected to break soon, according to a recent article in U.S. News & World Report. Until then, however, the article explains how the lawyers for Jolie and Pitt requested what is known as a “bifurcated judgment,” which allows married people to “be declared single before all issues in the divorce are agreed upon.” Despite the fact that Jolie and Pitt now are “officially single,” there are still unresolved issues in their divorce. The article intimates that one of the matters still to be decided is child support give that Angelina Jolie “filed papers saying Pitt wasn’t paying sufficient child support.” Brad Pitt’s lawyers disputed the allegation.
Background on Jolie and Pitt’s Relationship
The background of the celebrity relationship is important to know if you want to consider how a divorce is likely to play out. For example, the official date of marriage can shift expectations about property division. Likewise, understanding whether Pitt is the legal father of Jolie’s children also will play a role in issues like child custody and child support. We want to provide a brief background to this relationship and marriage before we get into the specifics about the divorce.
The couple’s relationship became official, at least in news media, in July 2005 with a spread in W magazine. Around that same time, Jolie adopted her second child Zahara, a six-month-old, from Ethiopia. Jolie already had an adopted son, Maddox, whom she adopted in 2002. In 2006, the couple announced that they were expecting a baby together. Shortly thereafter, Pitt officially adopted both Maddox and Zahara. In May 2006, the couple’s first biological child, Shiloh, was born. In March 2007, the couple adopted another son, Pax, a three-year-old, from Vietnam. By February 2008, Jolie was pregnant and later announced that she and Pitt were expecting twins. The twins, Knox and Vivienne, were born in July 2008.
The couple officially got married in August 2014. At the time of the marriage, Jolie and Pitt both were the legal parents of all six children. Jolie filed for divorce in August 2016 and sought primary custody of their six children. The following information breaks down the possibilities of Brad and Angelina’s divorce.
What Does Brad Pitt’s and Angelina Jolie’s Divorce Mean for Their Assets
California is one of only twelve states in the country that is a “community property” state. In order to understand how property may end up being divided in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s divorce, it is essential to understand how community property states work when it comes to property distribution.
Under California law, community property is everything that two spouses own together. It typically includes all property acquired after the date of marriage unless one of the spouses inherited it or received it as a gift. California expressly states that “each spouse or partner owns one-half of the community property.” Accordingly, any property that Jolie or Pitt acquired after the date of marriage in August 2014 likely would be classified as community property and would be subject to 50/50 division.
Given that both Jolie and Pitt travel frequently—outside California and outside the U.S.—their case may involve classification of “quasi-community property.” Under California law, “any type of property that was acquired by either one or both spouses . . . when living in another state that, had it been acquired while living in California, it would have been considered community property” is known as quasi-community property. This type of property is usually treated as community property.
There may be some complications in their case given that the couple lived together for such a long period of time before getting married, some property may be commingled (or mixed). If separate property was combined with community property in any fashion, it can become difficult for the court to classify it.
Will a Prenuptial Agreement Come Into Play?
Moreover, the couples’ expansive net worth also will make property division complicated. Each item of community property, from tangible property to items like stocks and investments, will need to be classified and valued before being divided. According to an article in The Huffington Post, the couple owns 12 properties together. While sources like The Huffington Post article suggest that Jolie and Pitt do have a prenuptial agreement that outlines how their property will be divided—allegedly totaling $400 million—the prenup cannot deal with child custody or child support issues.
How a Divorce Settlement Agreement Might Work
If Jolie and Pitt are in the process of negotiating a divorce settlement with the help of their attorneys, they may be able to enter into a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). A Marital Settlement Agreement allows a couple to come to an agreement about dividing community property, spousal support, child custody, child support, and other issues arising out of the marriage and divorce process.
In situations where a couple cannot reach a settlement agreement, the court will typically enter a judgment concerning each of the issues we mentioned above. Given that the Jolie-Pitt divorce has not yet been finalized, it is not clear whether the couple is working toward a settlement agreement that will be finalized or whether the court will need to enter a judgment concerning issues like property division, child custody, and child support.
Child Custody Determinations for Brad and Angelina’s Six Children
Currently, all six of the Jolie-Pitt kids are still minors. Maddox will turn 18 in August 2019. The court will make a decision about child custody based on what is in the best interests of the children. The court likely will take into account the fact that the children have been living with Jolie in an 11,000 square-foot property in Los Angeles since June 2017, with Pitt having visitation, according to an article in US Weekly.
Custody involves both legal custody (making important decisions about the child’s upbringing) and physical custody (spending time with the children and providing day-to-day caregiving). While any custody arrangement will not apply to Maddox once he turns 18, the rest of the children will be affected by an arrangement in an MSA or court judgment.
How Child Support Likely Will Be Calculated in the Brad and Angelina Divorce Case
Since California is an “income shares” state, the court takes into account both parents’ incomes in developing a monthly child support figure. While there are guidelines for determining child support amounts based on the parents’ total incomes and the number of children, the high earnings of Jolie and Pitt may result in the court deviating from the guidelines.
College Expenses for Maddox and the Other Jolie-Pitt Kids
California only requires parents to contribute to child support until a child turns 18. If a child remains as a full-time high school student after turning 18, child support must continue until the child reaches the age of 19 or the child graduates from high school. California law does not currently have specific provisions for college expenses, but parents can address college expenses in the MSA.
Presumably, Jolie and Pitt will have a provision governing college expenses in their MSA given their focus on their kids’ educations. If either parent fails to abide by provisions concerning college expenses in a Marital Settlement Agreement or in a court judgment, the court can enforce the provision.
Contact a Columbus High Asset Divorce Attorney
The Jolie-Pitt divorce is a high-profile example of a complicated high asset divorce case. Our firm regularly assists clients with complex high asset divorce cases. A Columbus high net worth divorce lawyer can speak with you today. Contact Lawrence Law Office to learn more.