• Georgia Clark

Brangelina Divorce highlights differences in Australia

Hot off the press; Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, collectively known as “Brangelina”, have split. And while the paparazzi move to democratically elect the next do-gooding Hollywood couple to adopt and care for the parentless malnourished children of the world, we look at how the US legal system differs from that of Australia.

Why is it that when Angelina filed for divorce she needed to cite irreconcilable differences as a reason for wanting to leave her husband? And why, apart from the glaringly obvious financial gain, does their supposed private life need to be splashed across the news?

In Australia, we have a no fault divorce jurisdiction. Whether there has been a reason for the breakdown in a marriage or a simple change of mind, “can I please have a refund”, there is no difference in obtaining a divorce or the time it takes to do so. Brangelina may be able to obtain their divorce quicker if either party can cite and prove a reason for the breakdown, which is excellent because Brad can go ahead and reconcile with Jenifer and move back to where he so rightfully belongs.

Unfortunately, there is a problem with this; the US divorce jurisdiction won’t enable Brad and Jen to reconcile as quickly as Brad would have hoped. Like everything in the USA, a divorce only comes in a package deal meaning that a couple must settle their property issues and children’s issues with a divorce and fries on the side. In Australia a couple can obtain a divorce just 12 months after final separation and then seek to settle property and children’s issues at a later date.

In some states in the USA if spousal misconduct can be proven then the aggrieved party could be entitled to compensation either by way of a property settlement or maintenance. No such award for damages exists in Australia. A spousal maintenance claim can be ordered in favour of one party but a claim must be awarded based upon one party’s reasonable ability to provide for the other and the other party’s inability to support themselves either by reason of having to care for the children of the relationship, physical or mental incapacity or for another adequate reason. Further, property settlements can be skewed in favour of one party but a court can only do so it the property settlement is just and equitable.

The Californian divorce jurisdiction is a costs based jurisdiction. This means that not only will there be an argument about who gets which piece of Fabergé Egg, there will also be a fight about who pays whose legal fees.

However, in an attempt to generate greater access to the Family Law Courts, the Australian Family Law jurisdiction is a no costs jurisdiction. Costs will not be awarded against a party and one party will not be ordered to pay the others legal costs except in extreme circumstances.

Aitken Partners is well versed in famous couples and Family Law. We have an experienced team consisting of accredited specialists and industry recognised solicitors. If you would like to chat about your family law issues, please feel free telephone any one of our friendly lawyers.

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