It has been reported that actress Angelina Jolie has criticised the judge handling her custody dispute with husband, Brad Pritt, regarding their five children aged, 17, 16, 14 and 12. Jolie is arguing that the judge “has failed to adequately consider…input as to their experiences, needs or wishes”, and believes she has been denied a fair trial.
Despite Jolie’s efforts for her children’s needs and wishes to be heard by the judge, Brad Pitt has now it’s understood been awarded joint custody, meaning the former couple will share the parenting of their children equally.
Although this case took place in the USA, such a high profile case has attracted commentary here in the UK on how children’s wishes and feelings are dealt with by a court. In England and Wales, the Court will always consider what is in the best interests of the child and will take into account a checklist enshrined in the Children Act 1989. When considering the needs of any child in a case, the Court will have regard to all of the factors set in this statutory checklist, such as the wishes and feelings of the child concerned, their physical, emotional and educational needs, and their ages. The Court’s paramount consideration being the welfare of the child.
A Court will not place sole weight on a child’s thoughts and feelings in determining which parent a child lives or spends time with, however a Court is more likely to place emphasis on the feelings of an older child than a younger child on the basis that they are able to demonstrate sufficient understanding of what they are being are asked.
There are a multitude of factors to consider in dealing with cases involving the care of children; emotions often run high and it’s easy, without the right specialist legal advice to lose sight of what is important – the children.
If you require advice in relation to a dispute over the care of your children, our experienced family specialist solicitors at Taylor Walton will be able to assist you. Please contact our Family Partner and Arbitrator Olive McCarthy (Olive.McCarthy@taylorwalton.co.uk) or her trainee Isabella Mason (Isabella.Mason@taylorwalton.co.uk) on 01727 845245 or by email.