The world may still be adjusting to the news that Brangelina is no more, but a legal battle seems to be on the horizon for the actors themselves. According to People, Brad Pitt has hired a lawyer to fight estranged wife Angelina Jolie’s request for sole physical custody of their six children. Who is Lance Spiegel? Brad Pitt’s attorney is a Beverly Hills divorce lawyer who has represented Eva Longoria, Russell Simmons, Heather Locklear, Charlie Sheen, and Michael Jackson in the past. He was reportedly brought on board by Pitt Thursday, and no doubt will have his work cut out for him in what is shaping up to be a hugely high-profile case swirling with child abuse allegations, substance abuse, and infidelity, which suggest that this is one Hollywood divorce that won’t be including public statements about amicable splits and no love lost. (Romper’s requests for comment to both actor’s reps were not immediately returned.)
Prior to filing divorce papers Monday (and promptly dropping a bombshell on everyone who still believed in lasting love), Jolie hired divorce attorney Laura Wasser, a high-powered lawyer who has represented many A-list stars in their own divorces (most recently, she represented Johnny Depp in his divorce from Amber Heard), and who has also worked with Jolie before, during her divorce from actor Billy Bob Thornton.
So far, the facts of the case are still pretty bare-bones. We know, for example, that Jolie has filed to dissolve the marriage and wants primary custody, and in a statement Tuesday, Jolie’s manager Geyer Kosinski told E! News the decision was “what’s in the best interest of taking care of her family.” The comment echoed an earlier statement by her attorney Robert Offer, who said she filed for divorce “for the health of the family,” and noted that Jolie “will not be commenting, and asks that the family be given its privacy at this time.” Pitt similarly released his own statement after the news broke, telling People he was “very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the well-being of our kids.”
Beyond those statements though are a whole lot of scandalous claims from “sources,” many of which aren’t making Pitt look so great right about now. As New York Magazine noted, Jolie’s media strategy so far appears to be completely on point: when TMZ broke the news on Monday of Jolie’s decision to file for divorce, the announcement already included rumors of Pitt’s alleged marijuana and alcohol use, or an “anger problem” Jolie was reportedly “fed up” with. From there, word grew that there may have been an “incident” on a private plane that led Jolie to move to end the marriage — and it reportedly involved Pitt being physically and/or verbally abusive to their children. Nothing about that claim has been substantiated (and neither side has officially commented on it), but according to Us Weekly, the incident may have resulted in a child abuse investigation by the FBI. A statement to the magazine Thursday from the FBI read:
In response to your inquiry regarding allegations within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States; specifically, an aircraft carrying Mr. Brad Pitt and his children, the FBI is continuing to gather facts and will evaluate whether an investigation at the federal level will be pursued.
Initially, it was reported by TMZ that Pitt was being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department and L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services regarding the rumored plane incident. Though, in a statement, the LAPD told Us Weekly that it “is not handling any report or allegations into child abuse for Mr. Brad Pitt.” Since the alleged incident occurred on a plane, however, it was speculated that the case was actually under the jurisdiction of the FBI, and judging by the bureau’s statement, it sounds as though a possible investigation may be pending.
Of course, allegations of abuse are serious, and if an investigation finds that they are warranted, it will certainly be difficult for Pitt to argue against Jolie’s claim that she deserves full custody. Yet, it’s still important to remember that, as of right now, all of these claims are still conjecture. Given the extremely high-profile nature of this case though (seriously, is there any couple whose contentious divorce could possibly be more headline worthy?), it seems inevitable that, at some point, more facts from the case will emerge. But as of right now, all that seems to be for sure is that both actors are poised for an intense (and incredibly expensive) legal fight, as what once seemed like a match made in Hollywood heaven begins to completely unravel.