In Texas and other states, when allegations of a parent's abusive treatment of a child becomes public, the local child welfare office will likely open an investigation. When a highly-covered celebrity couple is the subject of the investigation, a private process will be difficult to maintain. This is the situation currently consuming the news reports regarding the separation, divorce and child custody proceedings involving Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
The parties separated and have been in divorce proceedings for several months. For the past month, the two actors have been party to an agreement with their local county family services agency regarding temporary custody and visitation. The situation became clouded and was referred to the agency when their oldest son complained about undefined incidents of physical abuse allegedly inflicted by Pitt on the couple's plane several months ago.
The agreement gave temporary physical custody of their six children to Jolie with limited visitation privileges to Pitt. The agreement and the California family law order required a therapist to be present during Pitt's visitation sessions. Both husband and wife agreed to attend individual therapy, and group family sessions were also agreed upon.
The agreement called for Pitt to be subject to random drug and alcohol testing, which he has reportedly passed. The deadline for the agreement occurred on Oct. 20. However, the agency extended its investigation to determine whether there was a pattern of abuse and whether additional children were involved. Reportedly, the extension is a normal development and the agreement will continue for the time being.
This is an example of a child custody dispute becoming embroiled in formal accusations of abuse. This is not an uncommon occurrence in the Texas family law courts nor is it a phenomenon that is centered on celebrity couples. Such investigations are highly intrusive and do not always result in totally accurate factual findings. Each party must therefore take care to have experienced domestic relations counsel actively involved in monitoring the investigation and its aftermath.
Source: vanityfair.com, "Brad Pitt Child Abuse Investigation Has Reportedly Been Extended", Lauren Le Vine, Oct. 26, 2016