Theirs is a very passionate relationship and as we've just seen, their blowups are equally intense. Brad reportedly spent several minutes in his SUV before he finally alighted to enter his lawyer's office. His intemperate, rash request to bifurcate had them staring down the barrel of a real divorce. He did not intend for things to go this far or get this bad. He acted thoughtlessly. Angelina had every reason to be very upset.
Looking more closely at the Request and the Response
The whole purpose of her Request was to take the fight to him. Angelina started by upping the ante: Brad had proposed bifurcation and she went one step further and wanted to get it done by the end of the year. She was totally calling his bluff. She was furious. Spiegel noted, the "sudden effort to request a hearing" on child support was "calculated to increase the conflict." She was not interested in simply resolving the matter, she wanted to make it a legal issue and stick Brad with a retroactive court order. The Request was intended to hit back at him and publicly embarrass him. The new lawyers she hired indicated she was girding to bargain hard over their international assets. She was ready to do battle and let the public have a front row seat.
The most pointed rebuttal in Spiegel's response was that Bley-DeJean's Request was a "thinly veiled effort to manipulate media coverage." Child support had not been an issue before even though Brad had not kept up with his share, but in her anger, Angelina now wanted to make it a very public issue. The "material information" Spiegel claims was omitted --- that Brad brought bifurcation up first -- however is not important, it does not help Brad, and is of no interest the public since they already know Angelina filed for divorce two years ago and they see bifurcation as simply case management. It only matters to the two of them because they did not in fact want to divorce and it explains that they both acted rashly and emotionally.
In his response, Spiegel sought to avoid court involvement even on the request for bifurcation, which was very telling, stating that the whole Request for Case Management was not necessary. He avoided any reference to Angelina's motives, which were an easy and obvious target, or any personal criticism. It was, under the circumstances, a very calm, restrained response from Spiegel who in the past had been much more combative. Brad's hand was visible behind it. He knew he caused this, he was to blame and he was trying to soothe and calm Angelina.
On the matter of bifurcation, Spiegel concentrated almost entirely on narrating how it was actually Brad who had first broached it -- which helped explain how the whole mess started. He totally ignored the entire section Bley wrote. He concluded with a simple statement of facts -- that the Request shows Angelina "does not object" to Brad's request to bifurcate and that "the issue can now be resolved by stipulation" -- but as part of his response, it was redundant and served no purpose since both points were already covered in more detail in Bley's Request. What is notable is how the careful wording avoids the suggestion of forward action. No "Counsel can now work together so the request can move forward."
Wasser told Speigel she would discuss bifurcation with Angelina and get back to him but it was Bley who did a few days later and asked for additional time to work on it. It is also notable that Wasser is specifically named but Bley is "a member of Petitioner's legal team."
While Spiegel emphasized that Brad was the first to express interest in bifurcating, he was oblivious to everything Bley wrote on working to move the bifurcation forward and quickly obtain Judgement. If Brad really wanted to bifurcate, Spiegel would have welcomed every opportunity to advance it -- advancing is, after all, the whole objective of bifurcation. But he ignored it entirely. Bley had suggested a Case Management Conference to address all issues so they can complete the prerequisites for bifurcation in a timely manner. Spiegel replied the request was unnecessary.
Spiegel is impeding all of Bley's efforts to move bifurcation forward. His only interest was to set the record straight that Brad broached the request first, he started this mess, and Angelina was reacting to him. Brad never wanted the case to be bifurcated and neither does Angelina. His request was angry bluster and he was very alarmed that Angelina called his bluff and was upping the ante. They had a stare down and Brad couldn't blink fast enough. Brad started his efforts to make amends and make up with Angelina with Spiegel's response.
Spiegel gave a more assertive response to child support. He said Brad "adamantly disputes the contention that he has not paid significant child support." Spiegel mentioned the loan to "assist" Angelina in purchasing the DeMille and $1.3M for "bills" but again said Case Management and hearings were not necessary. There was no assertion that he had paid his "fair share," only that it was not insignificant. The fact that the DeMille was bought while the petition was in place makes the treatment of Brad's contribution more complicated and may have factored into the decision to structure it as a loan.
The tax and estate management considerations that go into structuring real estate purchases of high net worth individuals are often very complex, frequently involving multiple trusts and off-shore holding companies. We learned from the lighting designer's lawsuit that Miraval is actually owned and managed by Luxembourg-based companies. That purchase was structured as a lease with an option to buy. Brad's $8M contribution to the purchase of the DeMille would have been structured as a loan at the advice of and by their financial managers. Such a set up would have been obviously very carefully thought out and made a part of whatever trust or off-shore corp. owns the DeMille. These are complex financial arrangements, not a simple matter of Brad lending to Angelina, and it is likely that their names do not even directly appear.
Bley DeJean's follow-up statement after Spiegel's Response also seemed to back away from court involvement, but she first vigorously defended the filing. Bley more clearly stated their position on the children's expenses but no longer mentioned the RFO for retroactive child support, she did not mention bifurcation and avoided mentioning the petition. She gingerly referenced the "incident of September 2016" -- showing that Angelina, despite her anger was still protecting Brad. It would have brought back powerful memories to Brad -- of his culpability and everything Angelina endured and did for him and the children. Bley however did not deny Spiegel's allegation that she misled him by asking for no action and then filing the next day.
Everything seemed fine up til July 31, which was the day we saw Brad/Cliff Booth wearing his wedding ring. Angelina also showed no signs of being upset. Her new Guerlain spot which had multiple shots of her wedding ring was just released. Spiegel wrote that no child support issues had been previously raised at a conference call with counsel and Judge Ouderkirk at about that time. Sometime before Aug. 1. they quarreled and he sent Spiegel to make the bifurcation request in a flash of anger. It was a rash decision he had not thought through at all because the children are due imminently for the custody evaluation and he may have just jeopardized all the progress they made over the summer.
Angelina responded equally rashly and made her filing that was purposely intended to hurt and spite Brad in turn. She was spoiling for an uncharacteristically public fight. There was no sign of her normal calm, methodical control and her anathema for letting the public into their private life. She was ready to give Brad a real divorce battle which would, given everything he did with the children, leave him very bloodied. They were having a lovers quarrel and were using the court to throw filings instead of pots and pans at each other. They were John and Jane Smith trying to kill each other.
As I wrote previously, there is no benefit to either to request bifurcation and no reason to do so other than out of spite or anger. "The judge will grant a Motion for Bifurcation if one or both of the spouses are remarrying or if one or both of the spouses wants to file as a single person on their taxes." Even if Brad could claim the whole $9.3M was child support, he does not get any tax benefit in either the state or federal level:
Child support is considered a tax-neutral event. As the IRS puts it in Publication 504, "Child support payments are not deductible by the payer and are not taxable to the payee." Mar 30, 2018From a strategic point of view, bifurcation also removes a source of leverage. It doesn't make any sense for either of them.
Child support is neither taxable to the recipient (or the child) nor deductible by the payor. IRC s.71(c).
If either or both were in a relationship with anyone else, the past week would have been the perfect time to flaunt their new partners. It has often been done by ex-spouses to rub the new relationship on the other and they were both very angry and spiteful this week. There is nothing to deter them from publicly dating. They went public with their relationship months before Brad's divorce was finalized. They've been technically single since Angelina filed for divorce. The children know she filed for divorce and they know what happens when their friends' parents file for divorce. The kids are mature now and understand relationships. It's been two years. If they didn't still love each other, their hearts would have been open to a new relationship. Neither has gone this long without a relationship before. In fact, they would have needed it. Neither Brad nor Angelina has a history of hiding. If either was dating, we would have seen them out in public.
By now they've probably both calmed down having already vented their anger and after having had to deal with the reality of what they've unleashed. They're two very passionate individuals who totally lost control during a lovers quarrel, after being under unusual pressure for two years.. Everyone around them must have been very alarmed and aghast at the ugly public spat. Brad started this whole sorry mess and he apparently cooled down first. Even as he responded to Angelina's filing, he was already trying to make amends and patch things up with her. It falls to Angelina to make sure this very public blowup and specifically her child support claims do not upset the children and do not affect their custody evaluation interviews.
The children are scheduled to be back in L.A. Aug. 11 and Dr. Katz' evaluation may start Aug. 13. There are hearings scheduled and then a status conference will be held Aug. 21.
Preparations for the children's trip and the custody evaluation should help them to put this behind them and consider what really matters in their lives. Where their true happiness lies -- past, present and future.
Jolie has “tried to bridge the gap between the kids and their dad. She’s worked to achieve reinstatement for them. But it’s now between Brad, his kids, and the court. The court will determine things.”
They will emerge from this sheepish and chastened.
It will take a while before this moves out of the line of sight of all the tabloids who are seeking to take advantage with fabricated updates quoting phantom sources and totally off-target and inaccurate analysis.
For the record, I do NOT believe Brad or Spiegel or anyone connected to Brad is talking to any site just as I do NOT believe anyone connected to Angelina is. Most if not all of the info proliferating is bogus. The so-called "sources close to Brad /Angelina" the sites are claiming to quote are figments of the writers' imagination.
Brad and Angelina had a lovers quarrel in public. Their true friends and other insiders will not say anything more about it. Sometime after the custody evaluation we may get a status update. I will state again that you should ignore the fabricated reports sprouting like weeds to take advantage of public interest and wait for an official statement or update.