While most divorcing couples do not have details about their divorce speculated on, discussed and photographed in both print and on-line media, there are lessons from high profile divorces that are applicable to many.
On Tuesday April 14 2018, there was a media report in which Angelina Jolie accused Brad Pitt of not paying “meaningful” child support. (https://www.etonline.com/angelina-jolie-accuses-brad-pitt-of-not-paying-meaningful-child-support-in-new-court-filing-107482 ) According to the story, the documents filed with the family law court stated “As of present, [Pitt] has paid no meaningful child support since separation.” While on first read this seems to imply that no child support has been paid, that is not the case. The statement “no meaningful child support” is a skewed way to say there was some payment, but it is not sufficient.
The article continues, peppered with legalese, to essentially say Jolie accuses Pitt of not paying his support obligations and Pitt’s unnamed representative asserts Jolie is alienating or in other words negatively affecting Pitt’s relationship with his children. They are engaged in a bitter custody and support battle that likely will not end well for either of them and their six children.
There are always two sides to every story. In an AP article released on Wednesday August 14, 2018, Brad Pitt stated in court that he had given Jolie millions; $1.3 million paid in expenses for Jolie and the children and another $8 million to help her buy a house for herself and the children. It appears that the claim that he has not paid anything towards supporting the children is wrong.
This is an excellent example of how good intentions may have unintended results in a family law matter.
Paying bills and lending money are NOT the same as paying child support.
It appears that Pitt is making decisions on his own without consulting his legal counsel first. His lawyers would have structured these payments to protect Pitt and to documented the purpose included providing for the children’s needs.
Acts of kindness such as giving, loaning or paying millions will not always be reciprocated with subsequent act of kindness by the other parent. And it may be turned around and potentially used against the gifting parent.
Agreements need to be in writing.
If you are divorcing, it is vital to check with your attorney before you make gifts, pay bills or make other payments in lieu of or in addition to child support. To take an analogy from the boxing world, keep your hands up and protect yourself at all times!