US tabloids and social media were thrown into overdrive
yesterday at the shock announcement that the Hollywood acting
elites popularly referred to as "Brangelina" are destined
Widespread tabloid media reported that Angelina Jolie, who filed
for divorce on 15 September 2016, cited grounds of
"irreconcilable differences" between her and husband Brad
Pitt. Together the actors have raised six children.
It is understood that Jolie is swiftly seeking to formalise the
parenting arrangements for their children, to establish an
arrangement that they live with her and spend time with Pitt.
Commentators speculate that the basis for Jolie seeking this
restricted arrangement stems from allegations that Pitt has
parenting deficiencies connected with anger management; issues that
are exacerbated by misuse of alcohol and recreational drugs. Jolie
is seeking that she and Pitt have "joint legal
custody" (as opposed to "joint physical
custody") which, under Australian Family Law legislation,
translates to both parents being granted "shared parental
Whilst this sensationalised story ought best be resolved away
from the prying eyes of the media, it is worth noting that, under
Australian law, Jolie's concerns in respect of Pitt's
parenting capacity and alleged substance misuse are certainly
relevant to determining what parenting arrangements are in the best
interests of their children. Too often it seems necessary to obtain
evidence in family law matters to either support or refute a claim
of excessive alcohol use or misuse, or determine the chronic use of
legal and/or illegal drugs. Undoubtedly, matters involving such
allegations warrant further investigation to ensure that children
are not placed at risk of physical or psychological harm if
spending time with a parent who may be under the influence of such
substances. It would equally be in Pitt's interests to obtain
evidence to disprove such allegations.
As practitioners, we are then asked to consider, either by the
Court or by our clients, what the substance sought to be identified
is, and what appropriate method of testing shall result in
probative evidence being placed before the Court?
An additional challenge that family law practitioners must also
consider is that, in many circumstances, the parties may not have
the same resources of the Brangelina's of this world
and cannot afford to meet the costs of regular and ongoing drug
testing. In some cases, this will result in the undesirable
situation where the court is forced to draw an adverse inference
against a party in the absence of evidence to the contrary.
If you are doing a Will, or you are the executor of a deceased estate, consider what taxes and duties could be payable.
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