A Glance Back
- When DCFS agents met their plane when it landed in L.A. on September 14, they immediately determined that the children were suffering from severe trauma. They put in place a Child Safety Plan and a protective order while they launched an investigation into what transpired on the plane for possible abuse. These were "the events that led to the filing." Angelina had to file for dissolution in order to be allowed by the DCFS to keep the children with her. "It’s not something I wanted. There’s just nothing nice about it. It’s just hard.”
- Under the strict rules of the DCFS' Safety Plan, Angelina was forbidden from having any direct contact with Brad. They were officially allowed indirect contact only through their lawyers, which couldn't start until Brad hired Lance Spiegel three days after she filed. She was able to explain the situation to his parents and family in Missouri before she filed on September 19, but they couldn't be the ones to tell Brad because they weren't part of the allowed lines of communication. Brad had to remain in the dark until the DCFS was satisfied that their lawyers were in touch. On September 24, a family member told People, "Her family is broken and she is in agony. Her children are recovering from the events that brought about the filing of the divorce."
- When Brad learned that it was the DCFS that forced Angelina to file for dissolution and was restricting his contact with her and the children, he wanted to challenge them in court. "I was really on my back and chained to a system when Child Services was called. " The S&O to seal the records was drafted by Spiegel and sent to Laura Wasser for their approval on September 26, 2016 -- exactly a week after she filed. Brad took his time in hiring Spiegel but after he learned how the DCFS was dictating the family's life, he quickly added another Family Law attorney, Gary Fishbein, to beef up his legal team. He was gearing up to take on the DCFS. But as Wasser later wrote, "Angie's reluctance to enter into a stipulation to seal the file stems from her firm belief that litigation is the wrong decision." They had already explored every possible alternative in the days before they filed the Petition.
- They initially thought they only needed to keep the Petition in place while the DCFS investigation was open. But after the DCFS lifted restrictions on direct contact between them, they were "encouraged" by the children's therapists to draft the Custody Stipulation, which they signed on Oct. 26, 2016. When the DCFS ended its investigation on Nov. 9, Angelina issued a statement to the AP: "Angelina said from the beginning that she felt she had to take action for the health of the family and is relieved that after their 8-week involvement, the DCFS is now satisfied the safeguards are put in place that will allow the children to heal." The Stipulation contains provisions outlining the therapeutic process and "incorporates recommendations made by DCFS". It was filed under the Petition. It gave the therapists legal protection while they guided the children's recovery and supervised their visits with Brad. It also addressed the problems the DCFS uncovered in its investigation. The therapists and the DCFS knew from past experience that the safeguards were important. And they were proved right.
- Angelina and Brad are and have always been a couple. They were never estranged. There is no problem in their relationship. The recovery and reunification they've all been working on to make the family healthy involves Brad and the children. The family was engulfed by a crisis brought about by Brad's problems, but it did not come between them as husband and wife. They faced and were determined to solve all the problems together. "We've been able to work together to sort this out. We're both doing our best." "We are going to weather whatever comes and we are going to stick together." Their marriage is solid and surmounting this crisis has made their relationship stronger and closer.
- They agreed to maintain the façade of a divorcing couple as a safeguard so there wouldn't be any public pressure on the children to rush their healing. "The parents are committed to act as a united front to effectuate recovery and reunification." It was always their intent to have the Petition dismissed as soon as the path is clear to do so. This is why they only provided enough info in order to be able to file it in court and never complied with the disclosure requirements, without which the Petition cannot advance.
- After they signed the Custody Stipulation, Brad had to file a Response (on November 4, but signed Oct. 31). Even though the Stipulation was not immediately filed in court, he signed it as a legal participant in the case and he could not at same time be in default in the case.
- Wasser and Spiegel were tasked with being "good liaisons between our clients and the mental health professionals." They served as a buffer to insulate Brad and Angelina from direct conflict over the therapists. Any and all issues pertaining to the therapists were discussed and finalized between them. The family's therapists were the flashpoint in the process. They decided on Brad's access to the children and were thus effectively keeping the family apart. That put them in Brad's cross-hairs. Wasser was responsible for upholding the therapists' decisions and shielding them from pressure from Brad.
- It took a long time for Brad to comprehend the depth of the children's trauma and the need for the process. He didn't understand that it was not the therapists per se keeping him away but that they were basing their decisions on the children's own wishes and they did not feel safe with him. He thought all that was needed to restore their relationship with him was simply for them to spend more time together.
- The DCFS conducted an exhaustive 8-week investigation which came up with recommendations they had incorporated in the Custody Stipulation that required Brad to undergo individual therapy and group therapy at least once a week. These were considered such important provisions that Brad was required to provide Dr. Russ, the head of the family's team of therapists, with proof that he had complied. Only the provisions that applied specifically to Brad required the submission of proof of compliance.
- The Custody Stipulation included a provision that the children would continue to participate in individual counseling. Angelina sat in during their counseling sessions. It also stated that Brad, Angelina and the children would "continue to participate in conjoint sessions." Unlike the provisions for Brad's therapy and the children's counseling, there was no mention that the therapists would be overseeing the sessions or were otherwise directly or regularly involved. A therapist initially had to join their conjoint sessions until the children were ready for nontherapeutic visits with Brad.
- Brad had volunteered the provision that required him to continue random drug and alcohol testing to show Angelina and the kids that he was determined to deal with his drinking problem. He was initially gung ho and confident about abiding by the stipulation. But 3 weeks later -- after preparing to spend Thanksgiving alone -- his attitude had changed. Perplexed, Wasser wrote, "Please explain what has changed since October 26 and/or November 9, 2016." He had become frustrated with his slow progress and had lost confidence in the family's therapists and the process. He tried to convince Angelina to agree to his plan to marginalize the therapists and let him progress to unmonitored visits against their recommendations. "If your client is willing to agree to our proposal, we can avoid the necessity of filing an RFO and the meeting next week can be for the purpose of us telling the therapists that the parties have agreed to non-therapy access."
- The S&O to seal the files of the case that was first drafted in September 2016 was again proposed by Spiegel to Wasser in November 2016 as Brad was pushing for nontherapeutic visits. Wasser replied, "Continued rhetoric regarding a stipulation to seal pleadings we hope not to file seems counter intuitive." Angelina was reluctant to sign the S&O because she knew Brad was looking for legal relief to overrule the therapists. Sealing the file meant the reasons behind the therapists' and the DCFS' recommendations, i.e. the details of the incident and their assessment of Brad's behavior would not be read by the public, sparing him from a potentially calamitous PR problem. Not sealing the file served as a deterrent, to dissuade him from challenging the decisions of the therapists in court.
In interviews, they've both avoided mentioning their plane ride back from Nice on September 14, 2016. They've both avoided using the word trauma. "We’re all just healing from the events that led to the filing." "They’re not healing from divorce. They’re healing from... life, from things in life." Angelina adamantly declined to discuss the plane incident when repeatedly pressed by the BBC:
BBC: We know that an incident occurred that led to your separation. We also know you haven't said anything about this. Would you like to say something now?
AJ: "I don't want to say very much about that, except to say it was a very difficult time. And we are a family and we will always be a family, and we will get through this time and hopefully be a stronger family for it,
BBC: Because you haven't said much actually, the tabloids have been doing all the talking for you. And you haven't said anything at all actually.
AJ: "And I won't"
Spiegel noted in his email: "Based on evidence that has been corroborated by multiple sources (including public and private statements from your client), he has been a great father.." Angelina had asserted to investigators that Brad was a great father.
She has always been determined to protect Brad. But she also wants to allow the therapists to guide them on what is in the children's best interests.
- Recovery and reunification after severe trauma and a total loss of trust was always expected to be a slow process. It took 3 weeks -- til October 8, 2016 -- before the therapists felt the 4 younger children were ready to start having weekly visits with Brad. In order to protect the sanctity of their residence as a place where they could feel safe and secure, the visits had to take place some distance from their rental home. After observing the children's cold and wary reaction to Brad, the therapists concluded that the children would need to have a trauma specialist on hand to monitor and control their visits with Brad for some time. It took another month -- til mid-November -- just for the visits to improve to the point where the children started to "warm up" to Brad.
- On September 22, after reports that the DCFS was investigating him for child abuse first appeared and before Wasser and Spiegel had a chance to meet, Brad gave People his version of the plane incident. He said he “was not black-out drunk” and that “he absolutely remembers that evening.” Brad had a high threshold for alcohol. He could "drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka. I was a professional. I was good." Excessive drinking didn't render him senseless, instead, it appeared to amplify every angry and paranoid thought, and made him threatening and belligerent. Even when he was drunk, he appeared to be acting in a conscious and willful manner. It was for this reason that the children's trust in him totally disintegrated and they were left fearful for their safety with him. It was why the DCFS implemented a Child Safety Plan and put a protective order against him requiring him to stay away from the children and their place of residence.
- They weren't dealing with the effects of just one isolated incident. Things started to become "difficult" months before and included other incidents which led the DCFS to extend and expand its investigation. Boozing may have been the single biggest problem but there were other issues, all of which spurred the DCFS to require that he undergo intensive therapy. "I'm an asshole when it comes to this need for justice. I don't know where it comes from, this hollow quest for justice for some perceived slight. It's done me no good whatsoever. And this is coming from a guy who hit the lottery, I'm well aware of that. I hit the lottery, and I still would waste my time on those hollow pursuits." -- This was perhaps the 2nd biggest problem. The two problems made a combustible combination especially on the plane. They were compounded by an autocratic relationship vis a vis the children: I grew up with a Father-knows-best/war mentality—the father is all-powerful, super strong—instead of really knowing the man and his own self-doubt and struggles."
- It wasn't until October 19 that the therapists felt Maddox and Pax were ready to see him. Brad attacked or became physical with both of them in what apparently was "this hollow quest for justice for some perceived slight." Their first visit together was a disaster and ended quickly with the boys walking out and refusing to see him again. Speigel's November 28 email noted that they were still not participating in Brad's visits -- over a month after the failed visit and over two months since the plane incident.
- Brad had to spend Thanksgiving weekend 2016 in Turks and Caicos with a "male buddy" because the children collectively did not want to spend it with him. The older boys didn't want to see him at all. Pax didn't want him around on his birthday. Brad's visits with the younger children had just started to improve in November with the help of the conjoint sessions. It was at these sessions that Angelina observed Brad was still groping in his interactions with the younger children. To help him, especially in his long-awaited 2nd chance with the older boys, she and Wasser proposed on December 1 that they "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."
- It was only after Brad spent time with all the children that he finally understood the depth and seriousness of their trauma and the issues they had with him. That there was lot more work to be done before they could restore their relationship. "We know more, we're more focused on psychology." He finally realized that prematurely insisting on unmonitored visits when the therapists had determined the children were not ready would be counterproductive. "The first urge is to cling on. And then you've got a cliché: “If you love someone, set them free. It means to love without ownership."
- Angelina invited Brad's parents over for Christmas 2016 and arranged for one of the therapists to be with them at a gift exchange so that Brad, who had not yet been cleared for nontherapeutic visits, could join them. She similarly had a therapist join them during their New Year's ski vacation in Crested Butte so Brad could have the opportunity to bond with the boys whom he taught snowboarding. "We care for each other and care about our family, and we are both working towards the same goal."
- By January 9, 2017, just one month after Brad's abortive court maneuvers, Angelina was convinced that Brad was fully committed to the process and there was no need for court enforcement. They hired Judge Ouderkirk and took the case private. Angelina signed the S&O to seal the files on December 22, 2016, but it was only filed Jan 3, upon their return from Crested Butte.
- Their ski holiday helped bring Brad and the older boys together so they could talk openly and resolve the issues they had with him. But Brad's actions after September made the road back a lot bumpier.
- Around March 30, 2017 Brad gave a litany of his failings as a father to GQ and insisted that he "and my partner in this" reject the notion of being parties to a legal war.
"Kids are so delicate. They absorb everything. They need to have their hand held and things explained. They need to be listened to. When I get in that busy work mode, I'm not hearing. I want to be better at that. "
"I'm personally very retarded when it comes to taking inventory of my emotions. I'm much better at covering up. I grew up with a Father-knows-best/war mentality—the father is all-powerful, super strong—instead of really knowing the man and his own self-doubt and struggles."
"I gotta be more for them. I have to show them."
"Film feels like a cheap pass for me, as a way to get at those hard feelings. It doesn't work anymore, especially being a dad."
"I spent a lot of time avoiding feelings and building structures around feelings. And now I have no time left for that.
The incident on the plane exposed fissures; there was not enough empathy between him and the children.
He completely debunked his own reps. Spiegel and his other reps repeatedly made false and misleading statements, mischaracterizing events and Wasser's and Angelina's actions. Spiegel wrote, "It would be an extraordinary understatement to describe Brad as an involved parent. ... he has been a great father and there is no reason to exclude him from the children, including the isolated incident that was investigated and rejected by the DCFS." "If there is litigation, it is going to be because your client is either unable or unwilling to recognize that the children need to continue to have two loving parents in their lives."
Spiegel had been furious that Wasser filed their emails exposing the lies in his filings. After Angelina signed the S&O to seal and knowing the case was about to go private depriving him of the opportunity to publicly vent his anger, he filed totally superfluous supplemental papers whose sole purpose was to attack Wasser through Angelina: "Petitioner apparently has no self-regulating mechanism to preclude sensitive information from being place in the public record, or she has other motives pursuant to which she seeks to disseminate information in this proceeding ..." In response, Wasser's associate, Samantha Klein, wrote in her memo in support of the S&O to seal: "The same day that Petitioner signed an agreement to seal custody-related records as requested by Respondent, Respondent's counsel filed supplemental papers... used to publicly impugn Petitioner's character." "Petitioner has elected not to address each and every false accusation made by Respondent." She made the distinction that it was Respondent's counsel who filed the papers. It was a notably restrained response to Spiegel's ethically questionable actions. As with everything else happening in the haze around Brad at the time, Angelina was very understanding and remained protective.
- Brad may not have approved of all that his reps said and did, but they were part of a campaign he put in motion and so he is ultimately responsible. He would have had to account to the children particularly the older boys for all of his and his reps' actions. This is on top of what he needed to do to assuage their fears and restore their trust after the plane incident. His reps may have succeeded in confusing the public, but the children are his most critical audience, the one he is desperate to win back, and they know the truth. Still raw and distrustful of him, he would have to explain to them why people acting on his behalf had a habit of lying and smeared their mother to justify his attempts to go against what he had been told was in their best interests. They would not be easily mollified. The children have grown used to expressing their feelings in therapy and would demand a satisfactory explanation. Already in a hole, Brad's efforts dug him in even deeper and only prolonged what he was trying desperately to shorten.
- After the plane incident, it was initially estimated that the family would "achieve their long-term reunification goals" within "6-12 months." On December 1, 2016 Wasser wrote, "You have told us that you intend to file a request for additional non-therapeutic visitation and do not seem to have any regard for what the children's therapists feel is in their best interests." Beyond the fact that such a request would have been an exercise in futility after the Custody Stipulation was signed into an Order, it gave the children, the therapists, and eventually the evaluator additional serious reasons to question his trustworthiness, judgement and readiness to be a responsible father. “None of it’s easy. It’s very, very difficult, a very painful situation, and I just want my family healthy,”
- It took some time for Brad's therapy sessions to get going as he told GQ in late March 2017 that he had just started therapy and he had gone through two therapists before finding the "right one." But he had already confronted and in fact detailed a host of problems. Once he appreciated what therapy could do for him, he "loved" being in therapy.
- Brad's late embrace of therapy helped him accept that "This period has really been about looking at my weaknesses and failures ... I am those things I don't like... I need to face that and take care of that." "I am those mistakes."
- In June 2017, Angelina said to VF, "I had to do a therapy meeting last night." (at the DeMille) The therapy meetings have become a fixture of their family life. She has assumed the de facto role of monitor - mediator - moderator, which is how the conjoint sessions had been envisioned. It's a natural role for her since she is the person both sides trust the most. "All sides are committed to healing the family." "I am coping with finding a way through to make sure that this somehow makes us stronger and closer.”
- Their one-time security head, Mark Billingham was an instructor in a show “SAS: Who Dares Wins,” that put civilians through an SAS selection test in the Ecuadorian jungle. He said, “Brad wouldn’t last long because he wouldn’t have any cream to put on his face. It would be too sweaty and uncomfortable for him. He’s too pretty! But Angie could do it. She’d probably be the only one with balls at the end. She would stick it out.” Going through the therapeutic process was very difficult for Angelina as well, but Brad has a much lower tolerance for pain and discomfort. He was always looking for a quick and easy way out. This goes to the core of what got them here in the first place: he was spoiled and self-indulgent. "When I get in trouble it's because of my hubris." It was certainly the height of hubris for him to believe that he knew better than the therapists -- acknowledged mental health experts in their field. He wouldn't listen to anyone -- not to them, Wasser or Angelina who were all telling him what he was insisting on was wrong and against the children's best interests.
Brad has been a big star for most of his adult life and he had grown used to being coddled. He knew trouble was brewing: "Success is a beast. And it actually puts the emphasis on the wrong thing. You get away with more instead of looking within." Unfortunately, he didn't deal do anything about it until he had created a huge mess.
- Angelina is very compassionate and empathetic. For a time, Brad was in a very fragile emotional state -- "I'll just be creating scenarios of fiery demise in my mind. You know, a horrible end" -- and she was very protective of him. His reps tried to capitalize on this with a "poor Brad" campaign to tug at the heart strings and get her to agree to his efforts to take control of the visits. He was looking to rush the family back together. However misguided, his intent was to restore the family's normal, happy life. She understood that he was trying hard to make things right even if some of his efforts had the opposite effect. "I know the people who love me know me. And that's enough for me."
- In devoting all her energy to helping Brad and the children, Angelina acknowledged she ended up neglecting herself. "Sometimes women in families put themselves last, until it manifests itself in their own health.” In addition to hypertension, she developed Bell’s palsy. For all that he put her through and for all that she did and gave of herself to help him and the children, Brad is doing his best to make it up to her and show his gratitude “There’s still much beauty in the world and a lot of love. And a lot of love to be given."
- Angelina didn't want to buy a new home, she arrived at the decision reluctantly. “It took me a few months to realize that I was really going to have to do it. That there was going to have to be another base.” She expected and wanted the family to stay in Hollywood Hills. After spending months in Malibu, the children likely grew fond of living in wide open spaces and were unenthusiastic about returning to their densely shrouded and packed Hollywood Hills compound. It became a hurdle to the family's reunification. Finding a home that made the kids and Brad happy was not easy. There are not many estate-sized homes in the area big enough for them -- they were mostly in Beverly Hills and Bel Air. She quickly made an offer for the DeMille on April 14, 2017, two weeks after it came to market on March 29, despite the record-setting price. It was minutes away from their compound and down the street from David Fincher's house. "My friend Fincher lives right here. He's always going to have an open door for me."
"[This house] is a big jump forward for us, and we’re all trying to do our best to heal our family.” Acquiring the DeMille as the family's new residence was almost certainly a best effort on their part. It was no small concession from Brad to agree to transfer the family's principal residence away from the compound he had meticulously put together over two decades. Around March 30 he told GQ, "It's been a more painful week than normal—just certain things have come up." $24.5M was a very large capital outlay from them at a time when all their starring film projects -- the source of most of their income -- were on hold. It likely forced them to drop out of buying the property adjoining Miraval that was for sale for roughly the same price and that George Lucas instead purchased.
- The DeMille has striking similarities to their compound -- both are perched high on a hill with panoramic views, both surrounded by thick trees for privacy, around the same size, and in the same neighborhood. Compared to Hollywood Hills, it was bright and airy and had a lot of open lawn space. “It has a lot of moments. It’s happy. Happy and light, and we needed that.” She quickly installed a water slide and had an elaborate parkour-style tree house built. The new chapter in the family's life had a happy and fun start in a bright new home.
Their progress through 2017:
As of February, 2017: GMA: You filed for divorce, you said, for the health of your family. Is your family healthier now?
"We are...focusing on the health of our family, and so we will be. We will be stronger when we come out of this because that's what we're determined to do as a family."
As of March 30, 2017: "A few months ago I was having frightening dreams and I'd consciously lie awake trying to ask, What can I get out of this? What can I learn from this? Those ceased. And now I have been having moments of joy, and you wake and realize it's just a dream, and I get a bit depressed for the moment. Just the moment, just glimpse moments of joy because I know I'm just in the middle of this thing now and I'm not at the beginning of it or at the end of it, just where this chapter is right now, just smack-dab in the middle. It's fucking in the middle of it and, you know, I just don't want to dodge any of it. I just want to stand there, shirt open, and take my hits and see, and see.."
As of mid June 2017: “It’s just been the hardest time, and we’re just kind of coming up for air. [This house] is a big jump forward for us, and we’re all trying to do our best to heal our family.”"
As of September 2017: NYT: I asked how everyone is doing now.
“None of it’s easy. It’s very, very difficult, a very painful situation, and I just want my family healthy,” she said quietly.
Are they? “They’re getting better,” she said.
As of December 2017: John Kerry: How’s your family?
"All right. The kids will be here soon."
There were several signs that they expected to complete the process by Fall 2017:
- the appointment of Judge Ouderkirk was set to expire Dec. 31, 2017;
- Brad committed to shoot Ad Astra in August which left him with little time for anything else;
- the FTKMF banner unveiled during the start of Awards season presented it to the guilds FYC "A film by Angelina Jolie-Pitt."
- There were signs that the children had already recovered.:
Angelina did "nothing else for over a year" "because of my family situation, to take care of my kids."
She resumed her very busy schedule starting in September 2017 with Telluride.
She evidently was no longer "needed at home" by the kids.
She was able to sign on and arrange her schedule to work on Maleficent 2 and The One and Only Ivan. She was initially looking at starting Maleficent 2 in January but filming was moved back - which may hint at a new target completion date.
- She traveled to Vancouver alone without any of the children who stayed behind in L.A., presumably with Brad.
- There are signs that they are already maintaining one household and that Brad is with them in the DeMille.
- The whole family traveled back together from Nice in late June, retracing their exact steps from Sept. 2016.
But the process was still not completed by December and they had to draft an S&O to extend Judge Ouderkirk's appointment.
- Brad's attempts to contravene key provisions of the Custody Stipulation are very serious points against him. It was a legally binding agreement he and his attorney had just signed. Further, he was insisting on visits he had been repeatedly told the children were not yet ready for. In stubbornly trying to have his way, he put his desires ahead of his children's best interests. The verdict on his behavior is damning -- it showed him to be untrustworthy, irresponsible and selfish. He would have been held to account for all of his actions and there would have been a high price to pay. ""I just don't want to dodge any of it. I just want to stand there, shirt open, and take my hits." Those hits -- likely in the form of additional therapy requirements -- resulted in a long delay in the family's reunification.
- Just as weekly individual and group therapy sessions for Brad were considered important provisions of the Custody Stipulation, Brad's progress under therapy as judged by the therapists and the custody evaluator are important factors in determining whether the process outlined in the Stipulation has achieved its objectives. He would have had to pass psychological tests. Probably quite a few and more than once.
-The custody evaluator and the therapists will want to see that relations within the family are back to normal, that the children feel relaxed and safe alone in Brad's company, and that Brad will be a responsible father and not pose a risk to their well-being. At that point they can recommend that the Custody Stipulation be set aside and the Petition can be dismissed. The family seems to have achieved the first two some time ago. They may only be waiting for everyone to be convinced that Brad is ready.
- Once Maleficent 2 starts production, they will be away for around 4 months. That means they will be away from the therapists and the evaluator who are all practicing professionals and cannot accompany them. Angelina will be extremely busy, spending long hours with 2 projects filming concurrently. The process should be done by then.
- Gary Fishbein is no longer listed as one of Brad's attorneys. It also appears Brad intends to shoulder, if he isn't already, all the costs incurred with the filing including all attorneys fees. "Each party shall advance one-half of the cost" but "the Temporary Judge...is specifically authorized to order either party to pay attorney fees and costs incurred in connection with any matter presented to him."
- Having Richie serve as her close-in security in several very high profile awards since the start of the year indicates they've become comfortable about allowing more people to conclude that they're actually a couple.
- Their reps led by his manager Cynthia Pett Dante and her lawyer Robert Offer, their families in Missouri and L.A, their extremely tight circle of close friends that include Loung Ung and David Fincher, and their assistants led by Richie/Darren and Holly Goline are the only bonafide insiders and all are very discreet. Pett Dante and Offer have issued statements and made announcements on their behalf, but they deal almost exclusively with the AP. They have never commented on their personal lives or spoken to tabloids.
- People is the only tabloid they've given very brief statements to since they jettisoned their publicists shortly after hiring Judge Ouderkirk in January 2017. None of the other tabloid sites have had any legitimate access since then. People is far from perfect -- it panders to its readers and also makes up click bait, but it is the lesser of the evils. Doug Pitt said back in 2006 that while he never breaks personal news about his brother, he occasionally shares family reaction with People magazine, "and my local newspaper just because it's where I live." With few notable exceptions -- mostly straightforward reports on Angelina's activities -- the reports being churned out by all the tabloids are total garbage and are best left untouched. They're best left to the 🐜 🐀🐍 😀
- Angelina and Brad have always been able to keep info locked down tight, which is why they were able to keep her mastectomy a complete secret until they were ready to go public -- through The NY Times. They've only dealt with The NY Times and the AP. Except for the brief period after the plane incident and before Brad fully committed to the therapeutic process, things have been under tight control because Angelina is in full control. She has been in full control since they hired Judge Ouderkirk.
- Frank Pollaro spent a week with a friend in L.A. -- perhaps delivering new Pitt-Pollaro furniture for the DeMille. Just as he did in Miraval, Brad is likely taking charge of the "extensive renovation that honors its Golden Age glory." Brad leads but everyone has a vote.
DCFS - Los Angeles FAQ
If the Juvenile Division decides that it is necessary to remove a child from the home, several possibilities exist:
- the child may be placed with the other parent,if they are separated or divorced
- the child may be placed with relatives, or
- in a foster or group home
Legal separation is not an option in California unless your spouse agrees to go this route.... Otherwise, you have no choice but to file for divorce instead.
"Angelina Jolie Pitt has filed for dissolution of the marriage. This decision was made for the health of the family.
"I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the wellbeing of our kids."
The News-Leader reached out to Pitt's brother, Springfield resident Doug Pitt, for reaction from the family.
"You know, I've been hanging up on reporters all morning," Pitt told the News-Leader. He declined to specifically comment."Man, I'm sorry, I'm just not feeling this," he told the News-Leader. "I don't know if it's even still relevant tomorrow, but let me sleep on it. Right now, I'm going to hang out on the sidelines." When asked about internet and tabloid speculation as to why Jolie filed for divorce, Pitt said, "Just remember, they're the tabloids."
Pitt often serves as an unofficial family spokesperson. In 2006, after the Jolie-Pitts announced they were expecting their first child, Doug Pitt told the News-Leader that he never breaks personal news about his brother, though he occasionally shares family reaction with People magazine, "and my local newspaper just because it's where I live, and outside of that, if it says I said it: I didn't."
In the wake of child abuse allegations leveled against Pitt, the Department of Children and Family Services reportedly implemented a child safety plan. ET confirms that, given the safety plan, it's unlikely the 52-year-old star has been in contact with Jolie directly, as any communication would likely need to go through both parties' attorneys.
DCFS Emergency Protective Order (EPO) Restraining Order -
An order issued by the court, which enjoins a person from engaging in a specified behavior or activity, limits the distance a person may approach a specific location and/or person, or excludes a person from a specific dwelling or place of business. ...An EPO may exclude any parent, guardian or member of a child’s household from the dwelling of the person having the care, custody, and control of the child.
The protective order against the actor, 52, has been extended as investigators look into whether there are additional incidents or a pattern that may suggest a history of abuse that involves more than one of Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s six children.
"We can confirm that childcare professionals have encouraged a legal agreement accepted and signed by both sides over a week ago. In accordance with this agreement, the six children will stay in their mother's custody, and the children will continue therapeutic visits with their father. This has been determined by childcare professionals to be in the children's best interest."
We are not in a position to discuss the details. We hope now that it is clear the events which led to the dissolution filing involved minor children and their wellbeing , there will be understanding of the sensitivity of the family situation. We believe that all sides are committed to healing the family and ask for your consideration during this difficult time."
"The job of the DCFS is to make sure the children are in a safe and secure situation. As we said earlier this week, childcare professionals encouraged a legal agreement accepted and signed by both sides that was in the best interest of the children. Angelina said from the beginning that she felt she had to take action for the health of the family and is relieved that after their 8-week involvement, the DCFS is now satisfied the safeguards are put in place that will allow the children to heal."
STIPULATION AND ORDER RE CHILD CUSTODY AND THERAPY
Petitioner and Respondent ...hereby stipulate to the following temporary orders:
Pending written agreement of the parties or further order of the court-
- Petitioner shall have physical custody of the children.
- Respondent shall continue to have agreed upon therapeutic visitation. The frequency and conditions of the visits shall be determined by Ian Russ, PhD. Prior to making such determination, Dr. Russ shall consult with Lisa Hacker, Judy Goldman, Angela Bissada and Catherine Green. Dr. Russ shall at all times consider the best interests of the minor children.
- Respondent shall continue to participate in individual therapy a minimum of one time per week for no less than 50 minutes per session. At the conclusion of each month Respondent shall provide Dr. Russ with proof of his ongoing participation in individual therapy as set forth in this paragraph.
- Respondent shall continue to participate in group therapy a minimum of one time per a week. At the conclusion of each month Respondent shall provide Dr. Russ with proof of his ongoing participation in group therapy as set forth in this paragraph
- Respondent shall continue to submit to random drug and alcohol testing as directed by Dr. Robert Waldman. The random testing shall not exceed one time per week and there shall be a minimum of 4 tests every 30 days. Within 24 hours of receipt, Dr. Waldman shall provide Dr. Russ with Respondent's test results.
- the minor children shall continue to participate in individual counseling, the frequency and duration of the minor children's therapy shall be as recommended by Angela Bissada and Catherine Green.
- Petitioner, Respondent, and the minor children shall continue to participate in conjoint sessions.
Nov 18, 2016
Re: Marriage of Jolie Pitt
... As I said during our conversation yesterday, we believe that the children's therapists, Catherine Green and Angela Bissada are in the best position to determine whether Dr. Salk is necessary in the current therapy process. As you are aware, both Angela Bissada and Ian Russ have extensive training and experience in therapy of trauma issues. If the therapists feel that Dr. Salk could be a valuable addition to the team, we will certainly confer with our client.
With regard to the frequency of therapy sessions, you state that they need to be increased to at least twice a week and that Brad wants to designate the location for these sessions in order to facilitate consistency. I am wondering about your choice of the word "need" and again defer to the therapists to determine frequency. As to location, I am certain that the parties, with the help of their security team, can come up with a venue that makes sense for this family.
You will recall that only three weeks ago we signed a custody Stipulation and a week and a half ago Ian disseminated his recommendations. I understand that a schedule for the visits is in place through January. Please explain what has changed since October 26 and/or November 9, 2016.
With regard to an agreement that we request that the Court seal the custody pleadings, please specify what custody pleadings you intend to file. To my knowledge, we are currently operating under the terms of the Stipulation and following the Nov. 9, 2016 recommendations. Nothing further should be filed until next February at the earliest. It is my hope that we will be able to resolve custody issues in this case without the need for litigation. During our discussions, you have indicated that you agree. Continued rhetoric regarding a stipulation to seal pleadings we hope not to file seems counter intuitive.
We believe that rather than separate meetings, an all-hands meeting which includes Ian Russ, Angela Bissada, Catherine Green, Judy Goldman, Lisa Hacker and the parties' Family Law attorneys would be most productive. I think that in order to be good liaisons between our clients and the mental health professionals, it is important we hear what they have to say firsthand and at the same time. Perhaps such a meeting could prove helpful in resolving some, if not all, of the issues raised in your letters of Nov. 15 and Nov. 17, 2016.
To Laura Wasser
cc Alicia Thomas
Nov. 29 10:38 AM
Re Access outside of therapy
For the past 3 months, Brad has complied with every aspect of the therapy process, notwithstanding ongoing concerns that the therapy team has ignored or disregarded issues that he has raised. At the same time, the process has been hampered by scheduling and other logistical problems that have resulted in significant periods of no contact between Brad and the children. His access to the children is and has been far more limited than it should be and is much less than any judge is likely to order on a going forward basis.
Nov. 28 5:43 PM
Between now and the start of the holidays/school break, Brad is requesting 30 to 60 minutes sessions to be scheduled as follows: 1 session with the twins, 1 sessions with the middle kids, 1 session with all 4, one session with the older boys and if they are not going to participate, another session with the 4 younger kids.
Darren, Michael O. or Richie can be present. The sessions will be at a home that is approximately 10 minutes from your clients residence.
Dec 1, 2016
Re Marriage of Jolie Pitt
Our meeting yesterday left me feeling disconcerted. You have told us that you intend to file a request for additional non-therapeutic visitation and do not seem to have any regard for what the children's therapists feel is in their best interests.
I understand that Brad is frustrated but feel that it is incumbent upon us to help this family achieve their long-term reunification goals in a smooth and expeditious manner. Litigation absolutely does not effectuate that goal.
Is it not the end goal that within the next 6-12 months Brad is enjoying frequent and continuous contact with all of the children on a joint custodial basis? If we know that we will get to that point via either costly, ugly, protracted and public court battles or by virtue of out-of-court resolution and the therapeutic process upon which we all agreed less than a month ago, why would you opt to blow it all up and choose the former?
Please give the therapists a chance to tell us how the kids are feeling. I absolutely know that it will not be dispositive of your/your client's decision on how to proceed but I cannot imagine that it will not shape how we move forward.
Angie's reluctance to enter into a stipulation to seal the file stems from her firm belief that litigation is the wrong decision.
We have discussed a custody evaluation in this matter. As we advised yesterday, we are agreeable and would like it to commence immediately. We propose that Dr. Lulow be appointed. Is Brad agreeable? You have told us that you will not agree to the appointment of minor's counsel. We feel it is essential that the children have advocates who can communicate with the evaluator or the judge on their behalf. Will you reconsider? We also propose that the parties 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.
Please consider and ask your client to engage with us in trying to figure out how to effectively satisfy this family's concerns.
Dec 2, 2016
Re Marriage of Pitt
This is in response to your letter dated Dec. 1, 2016
The message that I attempted to deliver on Wednesday was that it is inconceivable to me that the court will not provide Brad with much greater access to the children than the time that I proposed earlier this week. It would be an extraordinary understatement to describe Brad as an involved parent. Based on evidence that has been corroborated by multiple sources (including public and private statements from your client), he has been a great father and there is no reason to exclude him from the children, including the isolated incident that was investigated and rejected by the DCFS.
DECLARATION OF LAURA A. WASSER, ESQ
6th day of December 2016:
3. It is my understanding that on Sept. 14, 2016, the parties and their minor children were involved in an incident during a flight from Europe to California. As a consequence of that incident, the DCFS and the FBI initiated investigations regarding allegations of abuse.
4. It is my further understanding that since the Sept. 14, 2016 incident, the minor children have lived exclusively with Petitioner. Respondent has had weekly therapeutic visits with the minor children since Oct. 8, 2016. The frequency and duration of these visits have been determined by the minor children's therapists, who were put in place jointly by the parties immediately after the Sept. 14, 2016 incident. The therapists have been present during each of the Respondent's visits. With the cooperation of the parties, further weekly therapeutic visits of 5 hours each have been scheduled through the end of January 2017. Respondent's visits may increase at any time based on the therapists' evaluation of each child's individual feelings and progress.
5. On Oct. 26, 2016, the parties executed a Stipulation and Order re Child Custody and Therapy (Custody Stipulation). A true correct copy of the Custody Stipulation is attached as Exhibit B.
The Custody Stipulation memorializes the custody and visitation arrangement set forth above and incorporates recommendations made by DCFS. I have not attached copies of documents our office received from DCFS in order to protect the minor children's privacy and to comply with confidentiality statutes.
6. Approximately one week after the Custody Stipulation was executed, our office received a copy of Respondent's Response and Request for Dissolution of Marriage. A true and correct copy of the Response and Request for Dissolution of Marriage filed on Nov. 4, 2016 is attache as Exhibit C. Our office previously granted Respondent an open extension of time to file his response; there was no deadline to file.
7. By mid-November, our office began receiving demands from Respondent's counsel for increased visitation which was not recommended by the minor children's therapists and not agreed upon when the parties entered into the Custody Stipulation less than one month earlier. True and correct copies of Respondent's counsel's letters of Nov. 17, 2016 and Nov 21, 2016 demanding additional visitation are attached collectively as Exhibit D. In both face to face meetings and written correspondence, our office maintained that it was premature to end the therapeutic monitoring only weeks after executing the Custody Stipulation encompassing both the therapists' and DCFS's recommendations. A true and correct copy of my letter of Nov 18, 2016 clearly outlining our position is attached as Exhibit E.
8. Our office requested a joint meeting with both parties' counsel and the minor children's therapists to get their impressions. For weeks, Respondent's counsel indicated Respondent would not consent to such a meeting. Respondent's counsel instead continued to demand additional visitation for Respondent without regard for the mental health professionals' recommendations. A true and correct copy of our email exchange on Nov 28 / 29 2016 detailing additional demands is attached as exhibit F.
9. On Dec 1, 2016, our office finally received Respondent's consent to conduct as joint meeting with counsel and therapists the following week. However, Respondent's request for additional visitation in an non-therapeutic setting was not withdrawn and his counsel continued to advise that they intended to file a Request for Order. Our office therefore sent a letter to Respondent's counsel of Dec 1, 2016 requesting compliance with the Custody Stipulation and the therapists' recommendations. A true and correct copy of our Dec 1, 2016 letter is attached as Exhibit G.
10. On Dec. 2, 2016, our office received a response to my letter of he previous day which again suggested that Respondent sought additional visitation with the minor children and would be requesting same from the court. A true and correct copy of the Dec. 2, 2016 letter is attached as Exhibit H. The same day we filed a copy of the Custody Stipulation with the Court for enforcement purposes.
Jan 9, 2017
"The parties and their counsel have signed agreements to preserve the privacy rights of their children and family by keeping all court documents confidential and engaging a private judge to make any necessary legal decisions and to facilitate the expeditious resolution of any remaining issues. The parents are committed to act as a united front to effectuate recovery and reunification."
"We are and forever will be a family. I am coping with finding a way through to make sure that this somehow makes us stronger and closer.”
"We are focusing on the health of our family, and so we will be. We will be stronger when we come out of this because that's what we're determined to do as a family."
"Well, there's a lot to tell them because there's understanding the future, there's understanding the immediate moment and why we're at this point, and then it brings up a lot of issues from the past that we haven't talked about. So our focus is that everyone comes out stronger and better people—there is no other outcome.
"I just started therapy. I love it, I love it. I went through two therapists to get to the right one."
"We know more, we're more focused on psychology. I come from a place where, you know, it's strength if we get a bruise or cut or ailment we don't discuss it, we just deal with it. We just go on. The downside of that is it's the same with our emotion. ... I grew up with a Father-knows-best / war mentality—the father is all-powerful, super strong—instead of really knowing the man and his own self-doubt and struggles. And it's hit me smack in the face with our divorce: I gotta be more. I gotta be more for them. I have to show them. And I haven't been great at it."
"When I get in trouble it's because of my hubris.
"But even this last year, you know—things I wasn't dealing with. I was boozing too much. It's just become a problem. And I'm really happy it's been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I've got my feelings in my fingertips again.
"For me this period has really been about looking at my weaknesses and failures and owning my side of the street...And this is coming from a guy who hit the lottery, I'm well aware of that. I hit the lottery, and I still would waste my time on those hollow pursuits.
"In the end, you find: I am those things I don't like. That is a part of me. I can't deny that. I have to accept that...I need to face that and take care of that.
"Family first. People on their deathbeds don't talk about what they obtained or were awarded. They talk about their loved ones or their regrets—that seems to be the menu. I say that as someone who's let the work take me away. Kids are so delicate. They absorb everything. They need to have their hand held and things explained. They need to be listened to. When I get in that busy work mode, I'm not hearing. I want to be better at that.
"I was really on my back and chained to a system when Child Services was called. And you know, after that, we've been able to work together to sort this out.
"A few months ago I was having frightening dreams and I'd consciously lie awake trying to ask, What can I get out of this? What can I learn from this? Those ceased. And now I have been having moments of joy, and you wake and realize it's just a dream, and I get a bit depressed for the moment. Just the moment, just glimpse moments of joy because I know I'm just in the middle of this thing now and I'm not at the beginning of it or at the end of it, just where this chapter is right now, just smack-dab in the middle. It's fucking in the middle of it and, you know, I just don't want to dodge any of it. I just want to stand there, shirt open, and take my hits and see, and see.
"This house was always chaotic and crazy, voices and bangs coming from everywhere, and then, as you see, there are days like this: very…very solemn. I don't know. I think everyone's creative in some way. If I'm not creating something, doing something, putting it out there, then I'll just be creating scenarios of fiery demise in my mind. You know, a horrible end.
"But I know the people who love me know me. And that's enough for me.
“I’m not suicidal or something,” Pitt said, laughing. “There’s still much beauty in the world and a lot of love. And a lot of love to be given. It’s all right. It’s just life.”
"It’s just been the hardest time, and we’re just kind of coming up for air. [This house] is a big jump forward for us, and we’re all trying to do our best to heal our family.”
"We’re all just healing from the events that led to the filing . . . They’re not healing from divorce. They’re healing from some . . . from life, from things in life.”
“We care for each other and care about our family, and we are both working towards the same goal.”
"Sometimes women in families put themselves last, until it manifests itself in their own health.”
“I don’t enjoy it. It’s not something I wanted. There’s just nothing nice about it. It’s just hard.”
“It took me a few months to realize that I was really going to have to do it. That there was going to have to be another base regardless of everything,” she said, her voice falling quiet and low, as it would each time the subject of the split arose. “That there was going to have to be a home. Another home.”
“It has a lot of moments,” Ms. Jolie said of the home, “It’s happy. Happy and light, and we needed that.”
“None of it’s easy. It’s very, very difficult, a very painful situation, and I just want my family healthy,”
“I’ve needed to take over a year off just to be with my kids,” Jolie says. “All I’ve done is some of my humanitarian work and my teaching. I’ve done nothing else for over a year.
... because of my family situation, to take care of my kids.... I've been needed at home. I hope [to work again] in the months to come.
"Publicist, I never really got along with. Had to have them for emergencies and it's never worked out."
"I’m happy we did that film because we did explore something together, and whatever it was, maybe it didn’t solve certain things, but we did communicate something that maybe needed to be communicated to each other.
"as the film says in the end—whatever you go through, weather the storm and stay together. It was a message to each other of we are going to weather whatever comes and we are going to stick together, so that was nice."
"she is doing fine and working with Brad on ways to continue their lives so everyone is happy.”
For Pitt “the process has been difficult. But he is OK and remains committed to his family.”
STIPULATION FOR EXTENDED APPOINTMENT
1. The appointment of Hon. John W. Ouderkirk, a retired judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court...as a Temporary Judge shall be extended, pursuant to the stipulation of the parties herein FOR ALL PURPOSES....until the conclusion of all matters
2. The place of any hearing or trial shall be determined by the Temporary Judge, and at the discretion of the Temporary Judge, appearance may be made telephonically.
3. Each party shall advance one-half of the cost of the Temporary Judge's services, including the Temporary Judge's fees, administrative costs and costs for court reporting services, for any hearing or trial over which the Temporary Judge presides, subject to reallocation by the Temporary Judge, who is specifically authorized to order either party to pay attorney fees and costs incurred in connection with any matter presented to him.
4. Trial dates have yet to be scheduled but the completion date of this appointment shall be December 31, 2018, and the Temporary Judge's appointment shall continue in effect through Dec. 31, 2018 (the "completion date").
9. At the completion of the trial on all issues, the Temporary Judge shall give written notice to the Family Law Supervising Judge that the matter is completed.
six kids ...“nothing has changed.
The custody evaluator will follow the court order by investigating and making recommendations that address the issues raised in your case. For example, the court might order the evaluator to make a recommendation about these and other issues:
- Supervised visitation,
- Whether an existing child custody order should be changed.
The evaluator can do all of the following as part of the investigation:
- Review the child’s medical, dental, mental health, and other health-care records and school and educational records;
- Observe parent-child interaction and interview parents, the child, the child’s family members, and others who have had contact with the child;
- Review documents related to custody, including local police reports and juvenile court records;
- Interview professionals who have provided care for the child; and
- Consult with other experts.