News broke this week that Angelina Jolie had filed for divorce from Brad Pitt after two years of marriage and over a decade of being together. At first, an affair, drinking and drug use were publicized as the reason for the split. But then celebrity gossip site TMZ reported that Pitt was investigated for alleged child abuse.
According to reports, there was an incident that occurred Sept. 14 on a private plane, returning to the U.S. from France, in which Pitt allegedly became verbally abusive and physical with at least one of the couple's six children. The plane is said to have landed at an airport in Minnesota, at which point, Pitt is said to have tried to leave the area on a fuel truck that was parked nearby.
The incident was investigated by child protection in Los Angeles, but there does not appear to be an open case involving the family at this time, sources have reported.
However, Jolie filed for divorce on Sept. 15, one day after the alleged abuse occurred. She asked for physical custody of the couple's six children, and for Pitt to be granted visitation. In her statement, Jolie said she was ending the couple's marriage "for the health of the family."
Abuse allegations can greatly affect custody
Unfortunately, abuse allegations are somewhat common in divorce cases in Texas and elsewhere. Whether it is verbal, physical, financial or emotional abuse that is said to be happening, the allegations are taken very seriously and can affect the outcome of the divorce and custody decisions.
Abuse allegations are most impactful on child custody determinations. All judges will take abuse allegations into account when deciding what type of custody arrangement is in the children's best interests. In some cases, an abusive parent may only be granted supervised visitation time or may be denied custody access entirely.
Even one instance of abuse can greatly impact a parent's visitation rights.
Protective orders can be put into place
Protective orders can be sought when a family member is being abused or fears abuse. A protective order prohibits an abuser from coming near victims. A judge will grant a protective order if he or she thinks that abuse has occurred or is likely to occur. The alleged abuser does have the opportunity to defend himself or herself.
Whether a protective order has been put into place in recent years is one thing a judge looks for when deciding a custody matter. In fact, in Texas, the law does not allow a parent who has a history of violence in the past two years to have possession of the children.
Texas refers to which parent the children live with as possession or access. The right to make legal decisions on behalf of the children is referred to as conservatorship. Keep reading for more information on child custody laws in Texas.