Brad stated in his petition that "In order to protect our children from irreparable damage to their privacy rights, I am respectfully requesting all custody-related pleadings be sealed." Spiegel argued that "the sealing option represents the only available safeguard to protect the minor children from the public dissemination of information regarding their private lives."
The judge clearly states in his decision that he will not agree to a broad sealing of the case. Brad's counsel must identify specific documents they want sealed. But more significantly, the judge wrote that while "the Court recognized the privacy rights of the minor children" he "will be guided by what is in the minor children's best interests."
That is a very strong hint that the judge is skeptical that the filing and the arguments they presented truly have the children's best interests at heart. That despite their repeated claims of concern for the children's privacy in their filing, that the concern may not be truly for the children's benefit.
And indeed the emails filed in court show Brad and Siegel's repeated disregard for what is in the children's best interests. The emails show that Wasser tried to be accommodating even while she kept reminding Spiegel that they already have an agreement and urged him to listen to the children's therapists. She urged them to reconsider appointing a minor's counsel to advocate for the children. She kept repeating that she and Angelina wanted him and Brad to work with them to avoid litigation and a public battle. But Spiegel was insistent and truculent. Spiegel clearly did not anticipate that Wasser would file all the emails from the time he started asking for changes in Brad's visitation. His last two emails to her were written with the obvious intent of filing them, but he didn't think the judge would get to see all of his machinations leading up to that point that effectively debunk most, if not all, of his claims and arguments -- and the children's privacy was never discussed.
The emails paint an incriminating picture of Spiegel and Brad's attitude and actions as well as their obvious intent to disregard the S&O -- and it was all filed in court for the judge to read. Filing all the emails was a masterstroke on Wasser's part and it weakens Spiegel and Brad's standing before the court.
(Thanks neveragain for the link)
The judge just signed their S&O which was created specifically to ensure the children heal properly. That means compliance with the S&O is now mandatory and will be enforced by the court.
Despite this, Brad seemed determined to ask the court to allow him to ignore the therapists' recommendations in direct contravention of the S&O. Spiegel's entire argument is that Brad should get unsupervised visits with the children even though its is against the therapists' advice and contrary to the stipulations of the S&O because he is a great father and even Angelina said so.
The children's wishes and what the therapists feel is in their best interests do not factor into Spiegel's arguments and in fact he plainly states that they will not influence Brad's decision.
Setting aside the fact that the court will now compel them to comply with the S&O, it's fairly obvious that their arguments won't go far with the judge who already indicated that he will be "guided by what is in the minor children's best interests.
I really don't know who outside of Brad thought that they had a chance of persuading anyone let alone the judge who just signed the S&O. Or that filing a RFO against the S&O would be anything but an exercise in futility and an invitation to be sharply rebuked by the court.
I can't imagine that Spiegel didn't explain all this to Brad. But Brad was only focused on getting what he wanted. And that may have been Wasser and Angelina's concern -- that his singe-minded focus to get more visits was already blinding him to the children's well-being.
Their main objective was to give Brad the extra visits he wanted for the Holidays. That was why the request was filed as an "ex-parte motion for order to seal or in the alternative to shorten time for hearing." The judge knows that was what the whole exercise was about, but he nevertheless set the hearing for January 17. That is even more than the "16 court days notice in order to investigate and understand Respondent's contentions and to put forth her own case" that Wasser's colleague, Samantha Klein was asking for. The judge handed Brad amd Spiegel a second defeat as obviously the Holidays will long be over. That was another indication that he was skeptical about what they were trying to do.
Spiegel told Wasser that the schedule he was proposing was less than what the court would likely give them. It doesn't appear that the judge is inclined to agree with that assessment even if there was no S&O.
It was Spiegel's original intention to file a RFO the week of Dec. 5th. It looks like they may have changed their mind. In fact, given all of the above, Spiegel and Brad would and should be timid about again appearing before the judge any time soon.
Wasser told reporters outside the courtroom they "won" and that was true. It was as good as they could have hoped for.
There should be a considerable change in the tenor of Spiegel's emails to Wasser. Brad and Spiegel should be far more agreeable and open to their suggestions.
I am often asked if I believe they will reconcile and happily, it is no longer a question of what I believe because it's already spelled out in Wasser's email. And "reconcile" isn't the right word because they've continue to be a couple, they just need to live apart for now.
As we can read in Wasser's Dec. 1 email, the "end goal" that everyone - Angelina, Brad, Wasser, Spiegel and the therapists -- is working on is so that in 6 - 12 months the family is reunited and Brad enjoys "frequent and continuous contact with all his children."
Wasser told Spiegel "it is incumbent upon us to help this family achieve their long-term reunification goals in a smooth and expeditious manner." And just to state the obvious: her lawyer saying that to his lawyer clearly means bringing Brad and Angelina and the children together.
The only reason why Wasser is actively involved in helping Brad achieve his "end goal" is because it would mean her client and Spiegel's client can again live together and they can withdraw the petition. They estimate it could take 6 to 12 months to get there.
The only way for Brad to have "frequent and continuous contact with all of the children on a joint custodial basis" in 6 to 12 months is if he and Angelina are living together. At the moment, he cannot visit the children in their home. His proposal was to have sessions with them in a house approximately 10 minutes away from where they and Angelina are staying. Their home right now is a safe haven from him, similar to when there was a restraining order against him. What they are working on is to get the children to gradually allow Brad to get closer to them to the point where they are willing to let him live with them and Angelina. So it should be very clear that "joint custodial basis" is only available to him if he is living with Angelina and is not possible if she is not there to protect the children -- not for years, and certainly not in 6 to 12 months.
Getting the children healed to the point where they are ready to have "frequent and continuous contact" with their father is the only issue affecting their long-term reunification goals.
So now that the email has revealed their intentions, will it be the elephant in the room they ignore for the next 6 to 12 months or will they officially acknowledge it before then?
In the same Dec. 1 email, Laura Wasser said "we" propose that Angelina and Brad "participate in joint sessions with a trauma specialist so that they may learn how to best support and interact with their children given their current state." Unlike the other matters she raised in the same paragraph, it was more a statement -- she did not ask if he was agreeable.
While Angelina wants them to continue to follow the therapists' recommendations. she is looking for ways to supplement their efforts. She understands Brad's frustrations but a big part of the problem may be Brad's lack of understanding on how to interact with his children while being mindful of the trauma they experienced because of him. It may be what is hampering his progress.
As of Nov. 28, the two older boys still didn't want to see their dad, but by Dec. 6, her rep was talking about Angelina house-hunting to continue family therapy -- so it seems they started sometime in between. That was when the therapist and Angelina noticed that Brad needed help with his interactions with the children so Wasser proposed it in her Dec. 1 email.
As I noted previously, Brad desperately needs Angelina's help to win back his children. This is especially true for Maddox and Pax who still refuse to see him on his scheduled visits. Angelina will be helping Brad in family therapy sessions which are his only means of contact with them. She may help Brad get face time but he needs to say and do the right things to win them back and that is why there is a need for their joint sessions. Angelina will be joining Brad in the sessions where a trauma specialist will guide him on how to improve his interactions with the children and teach her how to best support them.
Angelina had wanted Brad to focus on the sessions from the start and now that his legal avenues have closed, he can finally do so.
These efforts will get them to their "end goal" of reunifying the family faster and on firmer footing than if Brad had been able to force his way against the therapists' recommendations.
Dr. Russ has already drawn up a schedule for visits that extends through January. According to Wasser, "with the cooperation of the parties" Brad is scheduled to get 5 hours a week with the children.
It is clear that Brad was not satisfied with the schedule Russ and the children came up with which is why he was pushing for additional visits during the Holidays. If Maddox and Pax are still refusing to see him on his scheduled visits its unlikely that they expressed a desire to spend Christmas with him. But as Wasser wrote in her declaration, Brad's visits can increase at any time based on the therapists' evaluation of each child's individual feelings and progress.
Brad and Angelina have to work doubly hard between now and Christmas if Brad is to have any chance of spending it with them. This gives extra urgency to their family therapy sessions since Maddox and Pax are likely the big stumbling blocks to Brad joining the rest of the family.
Since their immediate goal is to be together for the Holidays, I would think the family therapy sessions would be at least 2X a week and possibly progressing to more. I think Angelina has a better than even chance of achieving this goal because the two boy are close to her and trust her. So while they may not run to hug their father just yet, they may be willing to spend time in the same room with him if their mother is around.
The family therapy sessions may be the first chance the children get to see their parents together. I wrote previously that the children will be closely watching how they interact. Seeing them being as openly affectionate as they were before will have a big influence on them. In particular, seeing their mother's affection for their father will show that she forgives him and is willing to trust him again. The children, especially Maddox and Pax, will take their cues from her.
Angelina and the kids are moving soon -- or perhaps they may have already just moved. They may have spent a day at the Hotel Bel-Air while their possessions were being set up in their new house closer to Brad.
It appears the focus is now shifting to more frequent family therapy sessions to compliment Brad's scheduled visits with the children.
As noted below, Wasser and Spiegel serve to keep Angelina and Brad detached from the day to day legal wranglings so they are able to focus on other matters -- such as how they can work together to help improve Brad's progress.
Her rep revealed on Dec. 6 that "she is looking for a new home in the Los Angeles area so that she can continue the family therapy sessions" at the height of the storm that was then brewing over Brad's push for non-therapeutic visits and after they had just filed the S&O.
The DCFS probably "encouraged" Wasser and Angelina to act as Guardians at the Gate, tasked with making sure the therapists are able to work independently and are able to decide when the children are ready to be with Brad.
That is why she was forced to file for divorce and advised that it be kept in place -- they knew she could and would be subject to pressure from Brad to let him move back in with her and the children before they were ready. She recognized this which is why she has installed Wasser as an intermediary between her and the therapists.
Wasser is effectively the therapists' advocate and she protects their independence and shields them from pressure from Brad's side. All discussions and decisions involving mental heath professionals whether it involves hiring new therapists or arranging new sessions must go through Wasser.
Brad and Angelina had to go through Wasser to finalize their joint therapy sessions.
As Wasser wrote to Spiegel, their role is to be "good liaisons between our clients and the mental health professionals." The reason why Wasser and Spiegel are handling all matters related to the therapists is because it is the flashpoint in the current situation. It is where conflicts arise because the therapists are effectively keeping the family apart. Wasser and Spiegel are tasked with threshing out all issues that involve mental health professionals so Brad and Angelina are one step removed and more insulated from conflict. They are cc'd all the formal correspondence but not necessarily all the informal emails.
Angelina and Brad likely have a rule that when they are together, all discussions pertaining to the therapists, the visits and therapy sessions are verboten as those must be done solely between and through Wasser and Spiegel. And Angelina probably requires strict adherence to it. Keeping things compartmentalized reduces friction between them and also makes Angelina less vulnerable to pressure. Although it may add to Brad's frustrations since he can't vent directly to her.
It made me think about the recent quotes from "friends" and "sources close to the actor" and look at them in a different light.
We know that they were trying to pressure her to override the therapists recommendations for his visits over the Holidays and they may have tried the same thing for Thanksgiving. So the friend who said Brad was sad and frustrated and added that "Angie could have had him there if she wanted." could be reflecting the arguments they made to her.
Another "source close to the actor" made statements that sound much like what Spiegel said in the emails. “Angie is playing hurtful games and he won’t play along. He feels he has done nothing wrong and is getting punished without cause. " And then curiously added "He has a great legal team and is figuring out the best strategy right now" -- just days before they filed their request to seal. That source may have been Spiegel himself. Although I don't think he'll be repeating his boast that they have a "great" team since they're eating humble pie right now. And after the emails belied many of his claims in his filings, I don't think Spiegel will want to show his face to the judge for a while.
Brad was venting to others as a way of letting Angelina know his frustrations in much the same way they were reassuring each other right after the plane incident when they were unable to communicate directly. And she is responding in kind. Her rep recently said that neither of them were health professionals so they should defer to the expertise of the mental health experts.
Wasser, Spiegel and the rest of their legal teams are involved in their capacity as family law specialists.
Brad sees the family's team of therapists as his adversaries. He feels they have "ignored or disregarded issues that he has raised." He feels they are not giving him enough visits and not allowing him to progress to unsupervised visits. He is frustrated with the visit schedules they have drawn up. It is probably safe to say that Brad has had a dislike for mental health professionals ever since the DCFS opened its investigation.
Angelina is caught in the middle because while she wants to help Brad, she must act based on the children's best interests.
What Brad and his legal team were trying to do was to use the emotional card to pressure her. He desperately wants to spend the Holidays with the family after spending Thanksgiving alone. But Spiegel's tactics are questionable. He made a brazen attempt in his last letter to press Angelina's buttons. It backfired spectacularly. Wasser sent a reply the same day where she curtly informed Spiegel she was filing the S&O.
The message Wasser and Angelina sent them was: if Brad and Spiegel were willing to stoop that low, then clearly they will stop at nothing to get what they wanted and will not listen to reason, so they had no choice but to ask the court to enforce the S&O. And in fact, that turned out to be the case as Brad continued to try to file an RFO despite the S&O already being mandatory and enforceable by the court. His actions defied all reason and logic. He wasn't willing to listen to Angelina who wanted him to stay within the therapeutic process, or to his counsel who struggled to find convincing arguments for what he wanted to do.
Perhaps now he can concentrate on what he needs to do instead of what he wants. Brad needs to just trust the person he loves on all matters and just leave everything in her hands. She is helping him with family therapy which is, and has always been, his best bet to spend more time during the Holidays with his family.
Brad and Angelina handle between them all other issues relating to the visits that do not involve mental health professionals. They are, and have always continued to function as a couple despite having to live apart. They have the same set up with their security. The only difference is their security now has to guard another house in the L.A. area. Wasser wrote in reply to Spiegel, "As to location I am certain the parties with the help of their security team can come up with a venue that makes sense for this family." In short, Wasser was saying it wasn't an issue that required their involvement as liaisons with the mental experts and Brad and Angelina can handle it themselves.
Brad didn't think Angelina would agree to file the S&O. He was counting on the fact that she wanted to protect him so he continued to press her. I wrote previously that Angelina's role is to be the family's protector. She has protected Brad in many ways. But her primary role is to protect the children's best interests and that meant enforcing the agreement. When push comes to shove, she must protect the children first.
It is notable that Angelina's PR rep initially held back from alluding to the real reason why the S&O was filed in court. She spoke almost exclusively about how Angelina was focused on the children and never left their side - that as a result she still hadn't finished First They Killed My Father. His rep of course didn't say anything either but then obfuscation is understandable from his side. They held off as they waited to see if Brad would still attempt to proceed with a RFO.
Spiegel started to push against the schedule the therapists recommended in mid-November, when Brad had just come back from China and before he left for Europe. He apparently had a good visit with some of the kids and they were starting to reconnect. This emboldened him to push for more, beyond what the therapists were ready to recommended and ignoring the fact that it was the therapists' work that helped get him there.
While Spiegel was pushing hard for non-therapeutic visits, i.e. visits outside of what they agreed upon and without a therapist present, under his proposal Brad will not be alone with the children. He proposed that members of their staff -- Darren, Michael O. or Richie -- can also be present. It's an admission that the children may not be comfortable being entirely alone with Brad.
Every move they've made to push against the S&O has just resulted in more information being made public that is damaging to Brad. The documents filed in court are clear, irrefutable proof of what was really happening and has embarrassed those that defended him and believed his PR's spin. Brad's team knows there's a lot more and a lot worse that could come to light if they continue to push and Angelina's team has sent them a warning that they are prepared to push back.
The direct result of his obstinate behavior is his public image is in far worse shape now than it was just a week ago. Now the world knows that his eldest sons still don't want to see him. That he didn't want to honor a legally binding agreement he just signed. That he was ignoring what was in his children's best interests. The world now sees the "great father" was putting his self interest ahead of his children's.
At this point, his agent and his manager must be imploring him to just focus his energies on the sessions approved by the therapists and in compliance with the S&O. He is making their job of protecting his career very difficult. The question is no longer whether Allied will lose money but how much it will lose. It bombed in China despite his efforts there and the support of Huahua Media. He doesn't have a Mission Impossible or a Pirates franchise to prop up his box office numbers going forward. He will still be a top leading actor and a highly respected producer, but the big money is from being a big movie star who can draw in audiences. His actions are diminishing his ability to do so.
When this is all over in 6 - 12 months, he will greatly need Angelina's help to rehabilitate his image.
ET-- which incidentally is emerging as having the best coverage and the best access -- noted that Angelina was"completely jewelry-free" in her latest photos. That was true of Brad as well during his Allied tour.
Angelina Jolie is imploring Brad Pitt to help find a new professional to help them and their children deal with the "trauma" of what happened on their private jet 3 months ago.
Angelina's attorney fired off an email to Brad's legal team on December 1, proposing they "participate in joint sessions with a trauma specialist so that they may learn how to best support and interact with their children."
The request makes it clear -- Jolie thinks the kids are so bad off because of what they witnessed on the plane, and the therapy process they've been going through isn't getting the job done. As we've reported, both sides agreed in September to attend family therapy sessions as part of their temporary custody agreement.
Another sign the situation is still dire -- in docs, Brad's attorney suggested their 2 eldest boys, Maddox and Pax, might not want to visit with their dad.
One source tells us the boys walked out of one session in the past, and have refused to attend others.
Lance Spigel and Laura Wasser