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Sep 21, 2016

Brangelina Divorce: What if They Lived in Montgomery County, Maryland?

Sep 21, 2016 - Family Law by |

Analyzing the Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt Divorce Based on Laws in Montgomery County:

Say it isn’t so Brangelina! If Brad and Angelina are calling it quits, then which couple in Hollywood can make it? But if this is the end of the Brangelina era, there are likely many issues to be resolved in their divorce.

I am an attorney based in Maryland, and am not licensed to practice law in California. So for purposes of this blog, let’s pretend that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie traded the lights of Tinseltown for a rolling estate in say – Potomac, Maryland. The rumor being reported is that Angelina wanted to shed Hollywood for a more normal life elsewhere, so it’s theoretically possible that they could have selected Montgomery County, Maryland. After all, here is as good as place as any to raise a family. So how would their divorce play out if it occurred in here, rather than Los Angeles, the land of celebrity divorces?

Well for starters, reports indicate that Angelina is filing for divorce based on irreconcilable differences. Many people assume that Maryland has such a ground; however, as we’ve discussed before, no such ground exists here. In order to file for divorce, Angelina would have to file based on one of the following grounds: 12 month separation, adultery, cruelty, desertion, or constructive desertion. The other grounds of conviction of a felony or misdemeanor if the Defendant has been sentenced to serve at least three years in a penal institution or insanity resulting in at least three years confinement in a mental institution are seldom used.

But could Brangelina take advantage of Maryland’s mutual consent divorce? The grounds for mutual consent require that the Parties enter into a Marital Settlement Agreement resolving all issues arising out of the marriage, that both parties are present at their Absolute Divorce hearing, and that neither party move to set the Agreement aside. Additionally, the Parties cannot have children together under the age of 18. Brad and Angelina have six children under the age of 18, so they would not be able to take advantage of the mutual consent ground in Maryland, that is assuming they were able to resolve their differences by agreement.

It appears that Angelina is the one filing for the divorce, so Angelina has to assert one of the aforementioned grounds in order to move forward with divorce proceedings against Brad. If Angelina can’t allege any of those grounds, then she could file for custody and child support (she is allegedly not seeking spousal support), and file for divorce once the grounds are met. It is reported that Brad was allegedly having an affair with a co-star (we make no claim as to whether this is true or untrue). Therefore, if Angelina has enough to move forward on adultery grounds, she could file a Complaint for Absolute Divorce based on adultery.

If that were the case, and Angelina had enough to move forward, then Brad and Angelina would litigate their contested custody and child support issues first, and then proceed to litigate their property issues and obtain their Absolute Divorce. With high income and many valuable assets, they would likely be set for a week long trial. The court would be tasked with determining the value of their property, whether it is marital or non-marital, and how to divide their property equitably. Hopefully, with the help of skilled mediators in Montgomery County, they would be able to resolve some, if not all, of their issues in mediation prior to going to trial.

The first thing that Brad or Angelina should do in this hypothetical scenario is consult with an experienced Montgomery County divorce attorney. For example, if Brad or Angelina contacted The Law Offices of Brandon Bernstein, LLC, he or she would be offered a free initial consultation to review his or her rights, options, and what to expect moving forward.

(Image Credit – Publicly available photo)