Child Protective Services Clears Brad Pitt in Child Abuse Investigation
On November 10, 2016, the ongoing child abuse investigation into Brad Pitt ended. According to media reports, a source familiar with the family’s situation said that the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services (“DCFS”) cleared Pitt of the allegations of abuse. Approximately two months earlier, DCFS initiated an investigation into Brad Pitt after an anonymous caller reported that Pitt had abused one of his children while flying on a private airplane.
During the DCFS investigation, Pitt reportedly took the situation very seriously and fully cooperated with the authorities. The specifics of the investigation remain unclear because confidentiality laws meant that DCFS could not release particular details regarding the situation. However, Angelina Jolie, Pitt’s estranged spouse, released a statement in which she explained that the couple’s children would remain in her physical custody while Pitt is allowed to attend therapeutic visits with the children. Jolie further stated that DCFS concluded the investigation and is satisfied that appropriate safeguards are in place and that the children are receiving appropriate care.
Had Pitt and Jolie lived in New Jersey, the NJ Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P”), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (“DYFS”), would have investigated the allegation of child abuse. In fact, DCP&P is required to respond to any allegation of child abuse or neglect or child welfare concerns, no matter who the alleged perpetrator may be. During an abuse, neglect, or child welfare concern investigation, DCP&P will usually interview the children and parents or adult caretakers of the children and contact the children’s schools and doctors to determine whether there are any serious problems with the children’s medical care or education.
After the Division initiates an investigation, there are many possible different outcomes: DCP&P may remove the children from their home without a court order, the Division may permit the children to remain in the home while the parents attend evaluations and services, or the Division may determine that the children are safe and that the parents do not require any services to ensure the children’s health and safety. Importantly, even if DCP&P does not take custody of children amidst allegations of abuse or neglect, the Division may still attempt to impose services into the family’s life. These services may include substance abuse services, individual counseling, family therapy, or parenting skills classes. In addition, DCP&P may file a complaint for either custody or care and supervision if the parents are not providing appropriate care to the children. The bottom line is that if DCP&P becomes involved with a family’s life, it is a serious situation that could result in the children being placed into foster care.