There has been much talk lately about the “Brangelina” Divorce. It seems that the couple separated following an alleged attack on a private jet by Brad on their son Maddox, aged 15 years. It is unclear what exactly transpired although it seems that following the incident, there was an anonymous call to the Los Angeles child abuse line and an investigation stemmed. The FBI are also reported to have interviewed Angelina and the children. It has been reported that Angelina is seeking the couple’s six children solely remain in her care. Brad is reported to be seeing the children in a supervised setting.
If this matter was being dealt with in UK, the process here in UK would be firstly to see what the criminal investigation reveals. If Brad is convicted for the alleged attack, then this will be a factor the Court will take into account when considering his arrangements with the children. The Court will be particularly concerned about the risk of harm likely to be caused to the children if he is permitted to have unsupervised contact. If the criminal court acquits Brad because the burden of proof is that the Court needs to be satisfied “beyond reasonable doubt” that the attack took place as reported, then the CAFCASS officer may recommend to the Court that there be a Fact Find hearing. A CAFCASS officer acts as an officer of the court and will be concerned about the safety of the children. Where a Fact Find hearing is ordered to take place, the Court will consider both parties’ versions of the incidents of abuse. The family Court burden of proof is much less than the burden of proof in a criminal court and is based on the “balance of probabilities”. If the Court is therefore persuaded by Angelina’s evidence that the violence was probably more likely to have happened, then findings will be made against Brad.
The CAFCASS officer will then consider the findings made and will compile a report as how matters should progress and it is usually the case that Brad will be urged to attend a Domestic Violence Perpetrators Course and an Anger Management Course. If he successfully completes those courses, then there will be further consideration as to his level of contact with the children. The Court will be focused on ensuring the children’s safety and what is in their best interest.
If you are going through a similar scenario and would like expert advice and assistance, please contact us on 0121-702-1580 to speak to one of our solicitors. The initial consultation will be free and you can be rest assured that what you discuss will remain totally confidential.