Jolie, 41, filed for divorce in Los Angeles on Monday, citing irreconcilable differences. She did not ask for spousal support, but requested sole physical custody of their six children.
While it remains unclear if the pair – who were wed in 2014 – have a prenuptial agreement in place, the dividing of assets will, either way, be a complicated endeavor, a family law specialist tells PEOPLE.
What’s at stake?
Steve Mindel tells PEOPLE that the “primary issues” in Jolie and Pitt’s split – aside from a custody arrangement – are “how money, property and toys get distributed.”
Estimates by celebrity estate attorney Donald David put Pitt’s worth up to approximately $350 million, and Jolie’s at $275 million. Pitt’s production company, Plan B, contributes to his “higher value,” David said, as well as his involvement in more big blockbusters in recent years than Jolie.
“We would expect that given all the money the two of them have, they can both maintain the marital standard of living equally and they probably don’t need money from the other one to support their children,” says Mindel, adding that the way she filed “indicate that she has not requested spousal support from Brad because she can support herself without Brad’s help.”
Mindel says it would be customary for the pair to have a prenup in place, which would indicate the distribution of their money and assets.
Adds Jacqueline Newman, a New-York based lawyer who deals with high net worth and high-profile clients, “I would be somewhat surprised if there wasn’t some kind of prenuptial agreement. I would think that the financial aspects of the divorce are probably not going to be as difficult.”
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What if there’s no prenup?
If the couple did not, in fact, have a prenup in place, things get more complicated, explains Mindel.
“They would retain a retired judicial officer to sit with the parties, have the lawyers make their arguments, have the business managers make their arguments and then the judge will resolve any differences between the two,” Mindel speculates.
Despite all that, Mindel says they likely will not need to face off in a public courtroom anytime soon.
He explains, “Most of us who handle high net worth divorce cases, we prefer to use the private court system because it allows our clients to not have to tell everybody in the world about every single bank account they have, or every single business they own, because their lives are private and they’d rather keep it that way.”
Newman agrees, saying, “My guess is that they are going to take the high road and settle this case out of the courts.”
And what if there is?
“When people make agreements between themselves before they get married, the courts will enforce those agreements,” Mindel explains. “Just like any two people can make an agreement, the courts will enforce them if you can prove what the agreement was. In the case of Brad and Angelina, whatever their agreement was, hopefully, it was documented in a premarital agreement.”
He says that a premarital agreement would likely specify if the couple will keep all, some, or none of each other’s assets. This is typically handled by business managers, accountants and auditors, Mindel speculates.
When it comes to specifics, though, Mindel says don’t expect to learn about Jolie and Pitt’s individual properties unless “one of them fails to perform pursuant to an agreement.”
“The only way to enforce that practically is to go to court, then all of the sudden all of the paperwork would come out,” he says. “That would be in the courts … Then everybody gets to see absolutely everything.”
•With reporting by KARA WARNER and CHAR ADAMS