Brad and Angelina Divorce: Brad’s Therapeutic Visits

News recently broke that Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from actor Brad Pitt after 2 years of marriage. The parties who although have only been married for a short period of time, have 6 children together. The parents have reportedly reached a temporary custody and visitation agreement pursuant to recommendations made by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Per the recommendations, Pitt will receive visitation with the minor children under the supervision of a therapist. In the field of family law, this sort of arrangement is more commonly known as “family reunification counseling” or “therapeutic supervised visitation.” As those who have gone through a custody or divorce case know, there are various types of visitation: unsupervised, professionally supervised, non-professionally supervised, and therapeutic. This type of visitation in the Pitt-Jolie case, involves a meeting between the children, the non-custodial parent and a therapist.

In the context of a custody case, one might wonder why therapeutic visitation would ever be ordered. Doesn’t supervised visitation by any third party suffice? The answer is no, not necessarily. In some cases, there are special circumstances where general supervised visitation by a professional or non-professional is not in the child’s best interest. Most commonly, therapeutic visitation is ordered where the visiting parent has been absent from the children’s lives such that it is difficult for the children to smoothly transition to ongoing visitation with that parent. Other situations can involve cases where the children have been subject to or exposed to domestic violence or other traumatic situations. Sometimes, it can be a case where the children are resistant to spending time with the visiting parent. Regardless of the reason why, therapeutic visitation is a common practice that here in Santa Clara County, judges often employ.

Generally, when taking part in these visits, the therapist will sit with the children and the visiting parent in his/her office and observe. The visiting parent is able to bring toys, snacks, books, etc. and spend time with the children as they would outside the office. Although it may not be the preferred method of visitation for the non-custodial parent it can certainly be helpful in the long run. For example, in the Pitt-Jolie case, therapeutic visitation can help dis-prove any allegations that the children might be in peril or otherwise at risk when in their father’s care. By having the therapeutic visitation provider present, the Court is able to hear from that supervisor if need be regarding a recommended increase or decrease from the current schedule.

Here are Mello & Pickering, LLP, with our combined 28 years of experience in family law, we have worked with several therapists in Santa Clara County who assist clients with therapeutic visitation. Our experience and rapport with these experts allows us to help ensure that you and your family receive the highest quality service possible throughout your divorce and/or custody/visitation case.