The custody battle between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who divorced in 2016 and co-parent six children, continues to simmer. A Los Angeles judge has now ordered Jolie to remind her children that they are safe with their father and that it’s important they establish a healthy relationship with him. The order also dictates that Jolie must give Pitt unrestricted telephone access to his children or risk losing primary custody. While this particular custody order is unique and public, it reveals a hard truth about divorce with children: It’s incredibly difficult to navigate, regardless of having money, status, fame, or well-defined cheekbones.
The couple, who co-parent three boys and three girls all under the age 16, divorced in 2016 over “irreconcilable differences” neither have been particularly forthcoming about. That said, at the time of the divorce filing Pitt became the subject of a Child Services investigation after an undisclosed incident related to his behavior on a private plane which was carrying his children and was likely grounds for Jolie gaining full custody. Over the last two years, the divorce proceedings which are ongoing, have proven to be as burdensome and messy as even the most modest middle-class divorce.
While the couple has worked very hard to keep the details of the whys and hows of the divorce from the public eye, they’ve both been forthcoming on the effect the divorce has had on their physical and mental health. Pitt admitted to GQ that he hit the sauce in order to cope, enough so that it became a serious problem. For her part, Jolie told Vanity Fair that she’d suffered from exhaustion and found herself crying in the shower to hide her stress from her kids.
And so it goes for just about anyone who has lived through the dissolution of a marriage. And perhaps there’s even some comfort to be found in Jolie versus Pitt. Even with high-priced lawyers and seemingly unlimited resources these two icons of the screen struggle as much as some blue collar dad from Kansas with the end of their relationship and navigating child custody. Because while we may think the biggest issues of divorce are about money and property, they are in fact about the hearts and minds of a family trying to find a new way.
And that’s truly what Pitt and Jolie are doing. It’s commendable that any time they’ve spoken of their divorce in the media that the children have been the prime concern for both parents. Neither wants to see the break up affect the lives of their kids. All they want to see is some kind of normalcy for the three girls and three boys. That normalcy might look strikingly different, materially, but emotionally, it’s not.
Both parents have spoken to a need to make sure their family comes out better for the decision in, and that’s a good priority for parents whether they are rich or poor.
“Our focus is that everyone come out stronger and better people,” Pitt recently told GQ. “There is no other outcome.”