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Child custody: The Brangelina way or your way?

Are you one of many people in Washington who keeps a close eye on celebrities and the ups and downs of their relationships? One of the most closely watched couples is Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. From the first rumors about a divorce a long time ago, until the shocking news that this couple finally filed for divorce in September, the scrutiny continues as rumors of Pitt abusing one or more of the children were quashed. Now, the focus is on who will have child custody and how will they arrange parenting and visitation.

If you are in the throes of a divorce, both you and your soon-to-be-ex may end up with negative feelings. However, if you had children together, the two of you will likely continue to have some relationship. So, celebrities and ordinary folks alike, have to try and push emotions aside and focus on what is best for the children. Even if you and the other parent cannot agree on exactly how you will manage parenting and visitation, the court will always base its decision on the best interests of the children.

In the battle between the 41-year-old Jolie and 52-year-old Pitt, a doctor who focusses on parental conflict and parent-child conflict oversees the child custody arrangements. Reportedly, this doctor would be the one to determine when and where Pitt will be allowed to see his children. They are the two adopted children, Maddox and Pax, and the couple's four biological children.

The doctor further said that any visitations that he allows would be therapeutic visitations -- at a time and place he determines. Also, the two celebrities will have to participate in sessions of group therapy with their children. The doctor said only a court order could change this arrangement. However, other sources say this was an agreement reached by the parents and could be modified on their requests.

So, if you still think the way celebrities handle their divorces are the way to go, you may be in for a long, traumatic battle. However, family courts in Washington encourage divorcing parents to sit down and draft a parenting plan that will accommodate the schedules of both parents and children.

What will the family court require from you?

  • If you have minor children, you and the co-parent must attend a mandatory parenting class that aims to help both parents and children cope with the trauma of separation and divorce.
  • Before the custody hearing, you must present a jointly drafted parenting plan for the court's approval.
  • For the benefit of the children, the court will want to see that you and your ex are both willing to take care of your children's needs after the divorce. If you cannot agree on parenting and visitation, the court will intervene and create a visitation order as it sees fit.

These two scenarios are total opposites of how you can handle child custody and parenting. Regardless of which option seems the one suitable for you, you need not do it alone. With the experienced support and guidance of a family law attorney in Washington -- who has two children of her own and knows the importance of parent-child bonds -- all issues can be addressed based your family's dynamics.

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