A Mighty Heart: Brangelina And A Delicate Balance 

Published on 20 September, 2021 | Jodi Ford

Family life is something of a great leveller.

The same sort of challenges can pose difficulties for individuals regardless of their income or renown.

It’s a theme which I’ve found myself reflecting on having read an interview recently given by the actress Angelina Jolie to one UK newspaper (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2021/sep/04/angelina-jolie-i-just-want-my-family-to-heal).

Whilst the article dealt with a number of topics, including her long record of humanitarian work, the eye was naturally drawn to comments which Jolie made about her failed marriage to fellow Hollywood A-lister, Brad Pitt.

After insisting that she was couldn’t expand on the topic, she confirmed that the circumstances in which the couple broke up left her fearing for the safety of “my whole family”.

The comments have been widely interpreted as relating to allegations of domestic abuse, including an incident involving Pitt and one of his sons on board their private jet days before Jolie filed for divorce in 2016 (https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/angelina-jolie-brad-pitt-domestic-violence-b1818874.html).

By the time that the divorce was concluded, in 2019, Jolie and Pitt had been married for five years but separated for three.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that both are glamorous Oscar-winning actors, Jolie’s comments have been picked up by news media around the world.

The size of the audience may be very different but I think there are important parallels with family law cases featuring men, women and children who are less famous.

The marriage between the stars who became jointly known as ‘BrAngelina’ may be over but they have still to resolve issues relating to their six children – three of whom are their biological children with three adopted.

Whether aired on social media or in print titles with sizeable circulation, as in Ms Jolie’s case, the effect of abuse allegations can be identical.

It’s important for family lawyers to assess and advise how such claims should be handled.

One key consideration is whether the parties making the allegations – and any children – are safe and, if not, what measures need to be put in place to ensure that they are.

Furthermore, the potential for domestic abuse allegations to affect childcare arrangements needs to be weighed up.

Even more than taking up time and money, investigations into these matters can add tension to familial relationships.

The priority of these deliberations should always be on guaranteeing the safety of the parties involved and then determining childcare arrangements with the least possible intervention or conflict in order to avoid the prospect of further harm.

Where allegations do not meet the test of requiring further intervention, we always recommend that parents do their best to set aside any differences between them and concentrate on what the friction may do to their children, particularly if these issues are in the public domain.

Many marriages and cohabiting partnerships do not last for ever. However, internet search engines, social media platforms and newspaper archives mean that critical remarks are always only a few clicks away for many years to come.

When ones achievements on celluloid or the local factory are long forgotten, shielding children from the unpleasantness of a marital breakdown is always the best legacy of all.

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