Former Hollywood couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s bitter divorce feud has taken new twists and turns after the Salt actor accused her ex-husband of domestic violence.
As the ex-couple’s eldest son Maddox testifies against his father in court a child psychologist has revealed how this might affect the mental health of the children.
Psychologist Dr. Jenn Mann spoke to HollywoodLife and said that the entire procedure would be a “traumatic” experience for the children. “It’s incredibly stressful because basically, children in that position are being asked to pick between their parents,” she said.
“That is very traumatic. Not to mention that going on the stand, having to declare this publicly, under oath, especially for a high-profile family, but really for any kids, is very traumatic and stressful,” she said.
On the other hand, child psychologist Dr. Shimi Kaung MD spoke to the outlet and said: “There’s definite pros and cons to this idea of children testifying.”
“However, the research has shown that children do want to have a say when the court is going to determine very practical and long-term aspects of their life. Like for example what home they’re going to live in, where they’re going to spend their time and vacations,” she said.
“In general, the voice of the child is very important. The child’s voice is very relevant to these cases. I think in general we want to empower children to have a voice. But we also have to protect them from any downsides of that. Which could be you know a parent feeling upset or angry about it,” she added.
“The children’s involvement has to be what we call child centered, meaning that they are the focus and priority. Not the parents or the courts, but it’s really their focus and prioritization,” said Dr. Shimi.
“In general it has to be done in privacy with a support person present, not necessarily either parent. It’s usually done, either through a videotape or a letter or closed-circuit television, because even in an open court, the child may look at their parents and get eye contact feedback. So, they want to kind of reduce any of those chances,” she said.
“The purpose of a support person is really important. So that could be a therapist, or somebody who would be kind of a neutral party to help especially with younger children,” shared the child psychologist.
According to Dr. Jenn, the entire situation needs to be untangled by the parents and if the input of the children is a need, then therapy is recommended.
“First of all it’s important to get the kids therapy to support them. Your child having a neutral person to talk to about how this custody battle is affecting them is really important,” she said.
“I think that it’s important for a parent in this position to really emphasize with their child that no matter what happens, they love them. Let them know how sorry they are that the child is being put in this position. And that you want them to be honest, when asked questions, even if it’s difficult or painful for your family,” said Dr. Jenn.