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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie file for divorce

Angelina Jolie filed for divorce earlier this month, September 19, which, under California law, gives Brad Pitt 30 days to file his response. California, like Texas, is a community property state. Community property, roughly, means that everything acquired during the marriage is jointly owned by both spouses. That means all the houses, retirement accounts, cash, and investments gained during the marriage are jointly owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

The next question, of course, is what happens next? That is a two part answer. First, Mr. Pitt must file his response to Ms. Jolie's allegations or, failing to respond; he accepts them all as true. Second, he must specifically respond to the allegations of child-abuse. The divorce response, once submitted to the court, is part of the public record. However, the results of the child abuse investigation are not.

Once Mr. Pitt files his response, the court enters a temporary support order. However, that is unlikely in this case because neither party needs financial support. But, it is very likely that the dispute over temporary child custody could become heated.

While they do have a prenuptial agreement, neither party can contract for child custody; the court retains ultimate authority over the welfare of the children. When determining custody, the courts look to the best interests of the child. In this context, that means the court will do its best to minimize the impact of the divorce on the children. For example, if it was customary for the children to stay with Ms. Jolie because she put her film career on pause while Mr. Pitt did not, then the court may order her more physical custody. Conversely, the opposite may be true and the opposite ordered.

If you are engaged in a high asset divorce, then you may want to speak with an attorney. Navigating the legal issues, while dealing with the inherent emotional and spiritual turmoil associated with any divorce is difficult on your own. An attorney can lessen the burden by taking over the legal and some of the emotional aspects. You don't need to go through a divorce alone.

Source: USA Today, "Brangelina Divorce: What happens next?" Maria Puente and Andrea Mandell, September 27, 2016

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