The latest in the bitter ‘Brangelina’ custody battle is that Angelina Jolie will continue to have sole custody of her six children with Brad Pitt.
Media sources say that a joint agreement was reached by both stars in consultation with childcare professionals. The agreement allows for the couple’s six children to continue to have “therapeutic visits” with their father.
In September 2016, Angelina filed for divorce against Brad, days after citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for the breakup. However, it was stated by lawyers at the time that the divorce was “for the health of the family.”
Soon after they separated, the couple reached a temporary custody agreement that included Brad having visitation with his children and both sides agreeing to meetings with therapists.
Relationship breakdown is a very painful time for the adults involved, but it can be even more difficult for children. Children within the family are often the innocent and confused casualties of the breakdown of a relationship.
Many parents are able to agree between themselves arrangements for their children which enable them to continue to enjoy a relationship with both parents.
For many other families, contact arrangements cannot be agreed. Some parents choose to engage in mediation as a means of trying to negotiate a solution.
Where mediation is not suitable or has proved unsuccessful, an application can be made to Family Courts to resolve the issues of contact (‘visitation’) and residence (‘custody’)
In Northern Ireland, children proceedings are dealt with by the Family Proceedings Court – in this Court, the child’s best interests are the primary concern. This means that the main focus will always be on the welfare of the child first, rather than the rights of either parent. It is a commonly held view that (if safe and appropriate) a child should enjoy a relationship with both parents.