Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie Can’t Move Children

In a reminder that the rich & famous are often no different from the rest of us when it comes to compliance with the laws, Angelina Jolie was recently in the news complaining that she was being blocked from moving out of the country by ex-husband and father of her children, Brad Pitt. It appears she wanted to move children, but ran into the same relocation of children laws that any other parent in her situation encounters.

Not every couple has a $67 million French mansion (“Chateau Miraval”) that they are fighting over, but scaled down, sometimes divorcing couples will fight over property, or who gets the family home.

But custody fights are a risk that any divorcing parent may face and can relate to. Jolie and Pitt have six kids together, ranging in age from 11 y.o. twins to an 18 y.o. son (who presumably is not part of the custody dispute due to his age). And Jolie recently complained that Pitt is stopping her from moving the children abroad with her. Jolie has homes around the world, and wants to show that world to the children by relocating them overseas.

After a divorce in Colorado, the law provides that a parent cannot “relocate with the child to a residence that substantially changes the geographical ties between the child and the other party” without the consent of the other parent or permission from the court.” C.R.S. 14-10-129(2)(c). In other words, a parent cannot move children unilaterally. For a more detailed analysis of attempts to move children in Colorado, see our article Relocation of Children in the Colorado Family Law Guide.

Jolie faces the same obstacle – like most parents, Pitt would rather the children not live thousands of miles away, so he is objecting to her proposed relocation of the children. Pitt and Jolie have had a contentious divorce, lasting more than three years so far, without finalization (they “bifurcated” their case last year, obtaining a decree of dissolution only, even while their issues in contention remain outstanding). Moreover, Jolie has alleged that Pitt has a drinking problem and abuses the children. While beyond the scope of this blog, here is a good summary of some of the allegations, and, if you like gossip, Hollywood reactions to the divorce.

Other Parent Not Have Final Veto over Children Moving

In Colorado, Pitt’s opposition to the children moving would not be the end of the issue, and while I can’t speak for the Pitt-Jolie divorce, I presume that even in California a judge would have the final say.

At a “relocation hearing” on a motion to move children, a Colorado domestic relations just would consider whether a parent’s request to move children would be in the best interests of the children, applying all of the statutory factors for both “best interests” and relocation. And that means the judge considers all evidence pertaining to the parents’ relationships with the children, and the children themselves.

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If Jolie’s allegations of abuse by Pitt pan out, that would tilt the “move children” scales in her favor. Moreover, as some of the children are teenagers, their wishes would be important in deciding whether they should move. Although their youngest children are only 11, which is not typically considered old enough to have a meaningful say in parenting, if their elder siblings had strong feelings one way or the other, rather than splitting up the children between the parents, the younger children would find their fate being determined in part by the wishes of their elder siblings.

Relocation hearings are granted priority on the court’s docket, at least in Colorado, so if Jolie were a Colorado parent wanting to move children, chances are her high-powered legal team would have already filed a motion, had any necessary parenting expert appointed, and be waiting for a hearing in the next couple of months. And at a relocation hearing, there is a chance the judge may decide it is in the children’s best interests to not only deny the children’s move, but also to change custody to the other parent!

What About the Chateau Miraval?

Wine drinkers rejoice – the Pitt-Jolie divorce has not stopped them from together launching a new rose champagne from their award-winning Chateau Miraval just this year! They didn’t join the ranks of the 1% by being stupid and letting their fights get in the way of making money! So no matter what happens to Jolie’s motion to move children, at least they have that going for them.

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