Collaborative Law in Practice: The Brangelina Case Study

In a recent blog, I discussed several reasons why Collaborative Law is a wise choice in the divorce process. In order to give more depth to discussion on the value of collaborative law, I’ve used information publicly available in the Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie divorce case along with the points from my previous collaborative blogs to illustrate the benefits of collaborative law. 

The first point of focus raised in a previous blog is that in collaborative law, the parties retain control. It is the parties that make decisions about their own family rather than having a judge decide.  The parties are able to make informed decisions and address their own unique circumstances with the help of their specially trained lawyer and other professionals. The collaborative environment allows for the parties and their respective attorneys to meet with a  financial neutral and child specialist in order to evaluate and discuss the specifics of the divorce and make decisions for the good of the whole family. There were certain accusations in the Pitt/Jolie case that may or may not be true.  Concerns by the parties can and should be addressed.  In the Pitt/Jolie case, the cooperative environment would be beneficial because the collaborative team would be able to shed light on any concerns and the possible results of different decisions as they pertain to finance, the parties and the children.  The privacy factor present in collaborative law enables the parties to deal with issues that need to be addressed in a more comprehensive way.  Divorces between parties of high net worth or in high-conflict can become more contentious because of a sometimes unintentional “take it or leave it” approach; however, in collaborative law, the win-lose approach is not used and the focus is “win-win”.  Each party has the opportunity to be heard and reflect on what would work best for the family.  This leads to more productive negotiations and enhanced creativity in addressing the specific details of the case. There are some very complicated financial and emotional facts in the Pitt/Jolie case.  Stepping back from the conflict rather than into the conflict facilitates better resolutions. For example, the voice of the children and how they view the situation can be brought into the process without bringing the children into the room. Each child is different and each child has different needs and a different relationship with each parent. In the collaborative model, the children meet with a child specialist who provides feedback to the parents (if the parents decide that this would be beneficial in consultation with their attorney and the child specialist.)  This can often be enlightening for the parents as they make decisions about the children. This approach is in direct contrast to any battle of experts where the children can be the losers.  In matters where there is a question of substance abuse, steps can be taken to understand and address the issue while honoring the role that each parent plays in the children’s lives.

The opportunity to be heard brings in the next point that the collaborative process offers a supportive environment. The collaborative process is uniquely valuable because it allows for other professionals to be a part of the process. In this process, the lawyers advocate for their clients in a different way. Addressing the values and the priorities of the client continues to be important, however the language and flexibility of the approach are different. The clients are participating with the assistance of their collaborative lawyer – rather than having the lawyer speak for them. A divorce coach may also be used to facilitate communication between the parties.  A divorce coach is a highly trained mental health professional with special skills in family systems and in helping the parties express and respond to each of  their core concerns. Financial and mental health professionals (the divorce coach or family specialist), along with child specialists, can be brought to the table to work with the parties and their attorneys. Bringing neutrality into the room to discuss finances and the specific needs of each particular child often stimulates a more comprehensive resolution.  Both Pitt and Jolie would be represented by their own collaborative attorneys and a team that focuses on gathering all pertinent information, understanding the information and talking about the finances and the children in a way that honors and respects each person’s thoughts in generating options and solutions.

Working to reach a mutually beneficial agreement sets a positive tone for the future and establishes a secure parenting base. Pitt and Jolie have been big names in Hollywood for quite some time, and the odds are that they will be crossing paths -, even in situations that do not  involve their children. After such a long-term relationship, the financial and emotional disentangling is complex and the results are long-lasting.  For that reason, a flexible, creative approach makes sense.

As in any situation, there are details of the Pitt/Jolie divorce (and marriage) of which the public is not aware. This blog is meant to illustrate the benefits of collaborative way in a practical real-life example. More information on resolving family law matters through the collaborative law can be obtained by making a request through the website: www.deborahwaynelaw.com.