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Celebrities Are Human Too- Celebrity Custody Wars

6/24/2019

It only takes a moment to be reminded that celebrities and sports stars are as human as the rest of us and go through the same ups and downs that we all do.  Despite the money and power celebrities have at their fingertips, Steve Jobs famously wore the same simple turtle neck, tennis shoes and jeans the everyday day of his life. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are both facing time in a federal penitentiary for fraud.  And like the rest of us, celebrities have vicious and ugly custody battles over their children.

If a couple cannot effectively co-parent following a break-up, then lawyers and courts become involved in making decisions for them.  Many times, if a judge must make a decision, neither party will be happy with the outcome.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have six children together. For years they seemed like the quintessential happy family, with Pitt doing good works for New Orleans for hurricane victims and Jolie becoming a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N.  When news of their separation became public, the reports also discussed a toxic custody storm that was beginning to gather momentum. The parties ultimately came to an agreement regarding the custody of their children and all court documents have since been sealed, but not before child welfare became involved for a child abuse allegation against Pitt on a private jet. The LA Superior Court had to make a determination that “not having a relationship with their father (Pitt)” would be “harmful” to the children.  It can be inferred that during this time, Jolie was seeking to completely cut off Pitt’s access to his children. Accusing a spouse of child abuse is a common legal tactic parties will use against one another to gain a legal advantage in the courtroom. 

Tom Cruise and Katie Holme

The couple was divorced in 2012 and had one daughter during their marriage, Suri. After a reported custody fight, Katie Holmes was awarded primary custody of the parties’ daughter. Commonly, after fighting parties come to an agreement or a decision by the courts, one or both of the parties fail to live up to that agreement.  It is reported that since the divorce settlement agreement was completed, giving both parties parenting time, Tom Cruise’s time with Suri has greatly diminished and he is not spending time with his daughter. The sad fact in these cases is the child is the one who loses out because they do not have two loving parents in their lives to support and nurture them.

Bethany Frankel and Jason Hoppy

Few recent cases have been as poisonous as the custody battle between Bethany Frankel and her ex-husband Jason Hoppy.  Bethany Frankel became famous from the Real Housewives of New York City, and subsequent shoot-offs from that fame. The couple was married in 2010 and filed for divorce in 2012. It took four years for the divorce to finalize in 2016. The divorce took two years longer than the actual length of the marriage, which is impressive as divorces go.  

Frankel and her now ex-husband share one daughter together, Brynn.  During the divorce, the father was arrested for first degree aggravated harassment arising from an incident outside the daughter’s school. 

When children are involved in a divorce, litigation is not always over once the ink is dry on the divorce. In March 2019, Bethany Frankel filed for full custody of their daughter citing the father’s continued abusive and irrational behavior. In many contentious custody cases, the courts will order a parenting coordinator, whose job is to assist the parties to co-parent their children. The co-parenting coordinator quit in March 2019 after a year, feeling that he was unable to get through to either party. The coordinator stated that in 15yrs of practicing law, this was the first time he has had to remove himself from a case. This sad saga will likely continue for years, costing the parties hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

When children are involved in separation and divorce, be mindful that they feel the heat and are very aware of their surroundings. It is best to work together and seek council when needed.

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