Let's forget about the Brangelina divorce for a bit and talk about their six children.
The first legal steps in the Brangelina divorce have produced a temporary deal on child custody, suggesting the breakup of a once-quintessential Hollywood couple might not be so intractable as first indicated.
TMZ and the Associated Press reported Friday that lawyers for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, prodded by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, have worked out an initial arrangement under which Jolie gets full custody of the couple's six children, with Pitt allowed to visit. Plus, he has to submit to random drug/alcohol testing and both parents have to undergo separate counseling and family counseling.
"Two sources familiar with the agreement but not authorized to speak publicly said the accord will be in place for three weeks," the AP reported. "It calls for Pitt's first visit with his children to be monitored by a therapist, but that may not be a requirement for subsequent visits."
Such an arrangement would last until DCFS decides to change it or turns the matter over to a judge to work out a permanent arrangement after the divorce.
No one from either team would comment. Pitt's divorce lawyer, Lance Spiegel, and Jolie's lawyer, Laura Wasser — both highly-rated celebrity divorce specialists in the Los Angeles area — do not talk to the media, and send calls to their offices to recorded automatic messages.
However, a temporary custody arrangement is not unusual for divorcing couples with children, according to Los Angeles divorce attorney Fahi Takesh Hallin. At this point in the process, she says, the parties have the choice of either going into open court to fight or working out an amicable resolution behind closed doors to be in place until the divorce is granted.
"If the parties are able to resolve this amicably it will be private. If they have to go to court, it will be open," Hallin says. "Sometimes the parties hire a private judge but even those proceedings have to be open to the public."
Given the amount of toxic publicity so far, and a gusher of leaks from anonymous sources close to both sides, an agreement on the question of who will take care of the kids before the divorce is finalized might have been harder to achieve. Cooler heads have prevailed.
In the Brangelina divorce, child protective services is involved because Pitt was accused, anonymously, of verbally and physically abusing one of his kids while on a private plane enroute to the USA from France on Sept. 14.
On Sept. 19, Jolie filed for divorce in Los Angeles, seeking full physical custody of the kids. She issued a statement saying she petitioned for divorce for the "health of the family."
"The one thing that appears to have been strategic early on was Jolie's preemptive announcement of the divorce filing along with disparaging allegations about Pitt," says Washington crisis management expert Eric Dezenhall, who is not attached to either side. "The message: This is going be painful so come to the table fast and maybe the pain will stop."