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Our leading family solicitors discuss the latest in Angelina and Brad's case, and explain more of how the child contact arrangements process works. 
In recent days, the judge appointed to handle the divorce proceedings of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie has been ordered to step down. This came after Angelina Jolie revealed to the court the business relationship that Judge John Ouderkirk had with Pitt. 
 
The failure to disclose these professional ties was declared an ‘ethical breach’ by the court, and means that the legal battle may need to restart with a new judge. 
 
While the couple has been legally divorced since 2019, after Jolie filed in 2016 over ‘irreconcilable differences', they have still been stuck in a messy child custody battle since then. 
 
Below, our leading family and divorce solicitors discuss the case more, and explain the legal process behind child contact issues and disputes in England and Wales. 

Contact our Family Law specialists 

How do child custody family court hearings work? 

In the case of Brad and Angelina, the family court system has worked a bit different to usual. The ex-spouses chose to appoint a private judge to their case, rather than using a randomly appointed judge. 
 
In England and Wales, the Family Courts are used as a last resort as a means to settle family disputes and issues, such as child contact disputes. This can include couples who cannot come to an agreement or conclusion over who the child should live with, or how the custody should be split. 
 
In the eyes of the law, there are a number of different arrangements that can be settled in the family courts. These are: 
 
where your child lives 
when your child spends time with each parent 
when and what other types of contact take place (phone calls, for example) 
 
See a full overview of the different types of contact, here. 

How do family courts decide on child contact arrangements? 

Our leading family law solicitors have been working on child custody disputes for over twenty years, and in this time they have come to be experts in understanding how the family courts in England and Wales work to decide child contact arrangements. 
 
There are a number of different factors that go into the court’s decisions when deciding on the contact arrangements for your specific family. Some of these include: 
 
The existing situation- If you and your partner are separated, and your children are currently living with your ex-spouse, but you are having regular overnight contact with them, this will usually translate into any court proceedings. It is likely that the courts will recognise this established contact and time that you spend with your children, and afford you at least the same amount of designated contact time, if not more, in any court proceedings. 
 
Any allegations- Still, if you are pursuing legal proceedings due to your ex-partner not allowing you any contact, or if you don’t get to see your children despite wanting and trying to, then legal proceedings could be the way to achieve this contact. It is the court’s requirement to take any allegations serious, and to properly investigate them. This can be through drug and alcohol testing, or collecting any evidence of violence or dispute between the two parents. 
 
The age of your children- Family court cases involving babies and young children often pan out differently to those involving older children. If the child is a newborn, or young toddler, then the courts will generally rule in favour of regular contact for parents, possibly of a shorter nature. This allows for them to have the opportunity to build up a strong relationship with their young child, and experience them growing up. If the children are older, it is much more common for them to have more of a say in the contact arrangements, and to see which parent they would rather spend their time with. Either way, the court will always remain impartial, and our leading family solicitors can work with you to ensure the best possible scenario, and make sure that your case is argued in the strongest way. 

Get in touch with MG Legal’s leading Preston family solicitors: 

Our friendly team of family solicitors are experts in all aspects of family law, from divorce proceedings to child contact issues. While we are not afraid to fight tooth and nail in the family courts in order to get you the outcome you deserve, we will always try to settle issues out of court where possible. 
 
This is made much easier by our 20 years of experience, meaning we really understand the different processes and how best to approach them. 
 
MG Legal’s Family Solicitors in Preston offer all services at a clear, fixed-fee rate, and there are never any hidden or extra costs in our work. 
 
Get in touch with our team online, here, or by email at enquiries@mglegal.co.uk , to speak to an expert today. Or, come and see our solicitors in Preston in one of our offices in Longridge or Garstang, or otherwise our Lancaster office. We are here to provide a helping hand, and assist you in getting your family life back on track. 
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