Angelina Jolie Pitt and Brad Pitt with their children in 2011. ()
As reports surfaced Thursday that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have placed their divorce on hold and are working toward a reconciliation, neither actor/filmmaker issued a statement—but that hasn’t kept celebrity media outlets from exulting, hand-wringing, worrying about the kids or doling out blame for everything.
So what’s behind the flurry of reconciliation reports, and the lack of clarity given the silence of the principals, on the status of the divorce that would end the 12-year marriage of what was Hollywood’s highest-profile couple?
“I think there are three likely explanations,” said Stacy Phillips of Blank Rome, one of the top family law attorneys in the nation, who has worked on cases involving Britney Spears, Axl Rose, Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, among others.
“One, they really want to keep this out of the public eye. There was way too much publicity earlier and they don’t want their children to be collateral damage,” she said. “Two, they may be exploring their relationship within the divorce context and don’t want the scrutiny of the media. And three, they may be exploring getting back together.”
An email to Laura Wasser, a partner at Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles who filed for the divorce on Jolie’s behalf, was not immediately returned.
Pitt’s admission of a drinking problem in a GQ piece and Jolie’s conciliatory tone in a Vanity Fair article fueled talk of their getting back together. But regardless of what’s going on with their relationship, it would be much easier without the scorching glare of the media spotlight and the court of public opinion, according to Phillips.
“People forget, these are real people with real feelings, not Barbie and Ken dolls,” she said. “The media being so voyeuristic makes it more difficult for them to work through their issues, cure the pain, take care of their family and hold their heads high.”
Phillips said that if they were exploring getting back together, they were being smart by not going public with it.
“If they are going to call off the divorce, she’s going to have to file to that effect at some point. That would have really triggered a media storm, so I think they’re wise to wait and work out any issues like custody of the kids without the whole world watching,” she said.
Their last joint statement came in early January, when they said they would keep the details of their divorce confidential by using a private judge. Notably, it mentioned reunification as well as recovery.
“The parties and their counsel have signed agreements to preserve the privacy rights of their children and family by keeping all court documents confidential and engaging a private judge to make any necessary legal decisions and to facilitate the expeditious resolution of any remaining issues. The parents are committed to act as a united front to effectuate recovery and reunification.”
Any custody agreements between the two would have to be dissolved or reworked were the split to be called off, a task made easier when Pitt was cleared of any wrongdoing aimed at the children by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in November. They have six minor children: Maddox, 15; Pax, 12; Zahara, 11; Shiloh, 10; and twins Knox and Vivienne, 8.
Attorney Phillips acknowledged the irony of decrying the media barrage aimed at the couple while at the same time being a part of it.
“I think the key is to be respectful to their feelings and their families, and that should go for the public, too,” she said.
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