Dear Carolyn,

I am a regular reader of your column. I love your comments, and I so want you to comment on Brangelina – Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Why did she block his cell phone number? Why do you think she wants sole legal custody?


Carolyn Answers …

Brad is in the pits.

Several issues have been cited in celebrity news, and the recent one probably put out by Brad’s side has some ring of truth. Brad and Angelina have six children: Shiloh, 10; 8-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne; Maddox, 15 (adopted from Cambodia); Pax, 12 (adopted from Vietnam); and Zahara, 11 (adopted from Ethiopia).

The first allegations were by Jolie in her court filings stating she wanted sole physical custody of the six children. The media reported Jolie stated that Pitt was angry and drank too much whiskey, citing his parenting style as a problem. With six kids – a handful by any definition – that was potentially believable. I read the Los Angeles pleadings citing “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the divorce.

However, the children likely have a staff of nannies. At the writing of this Ask Carolyn, Jolie has blocked Pitt’s cell phone number; she will not discuss the issues between them with him. Jolie was estranged from her father for years but now has made peace on that side. Pitt wants her father to broker the situation between Pitt and Jolie, but the father seems unwilling at this time to get involved.

Believable to me is Pitt’s side. He didn’t want her to take the children to Syria and Lebanon, even with a staff of bodyguards. The Daily Mirror of London reports an intense argument between Jolie and Pitt over taking the children to Syria. She is a UN “do-gooder.” Pitt must have felt this placed the children at risk. I agree with Pitt on this. There also were media discussions last year about Pitt and Jolie adopting one to three children from Syria. This did not happen.

Readers may also recall that Jolie had a proactive double mastectomy and ovary removal because she has BRCA1 gene. I would add that to her risk factors for divorce for her 2-year-old marriage to Pitt. That is the definition of emotional upheaval.

All in all, this marriage had huge risk factors, and in my opinion, is not likely to survive. Did Pitt have an affair with Marion Cotillard, his Allied co-star? Seems unlikely based on what I have read to date. I think the meteors in the galaxy collided on guilt, alcohol and stress, and the meteors fell out of the sky. Humpty Dumpty is broken. Amen.



Dear Carolyn,

I am concerned my granddaughter might really kill herself. She has threatened several times. She overdosed on some pills in the cabinet once and had to have her stomach pumped. What can I do? What should l look out for regarding teen suicide?


Carolyn Answers …

Teen suicide is truly tragic, and I have seen it too many times in my life in family law cases. Knowing a lot about teen suicide is important. What brings a young person to such hopelessness and frustration? Parents, teachers, coaches, classmates and neighbors all need to be on alert. Do you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death of children between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control? Note the human brain is probably not mature until around age 25 in our complex society. For every completed suicide, it is reported that there are 25 attempts.

So how do the teens commit suicide? Sixty percent use guns. The second common method is overdose on medications. Girls use pills more often, but boys succeed more often and tend to use more lethal methods, such as guns and hanging.

So what should you look for? Does the teen talk about dying? Has the teen experienced a recent loss through death or divorce? Has the child’s personality changed? Is there more tension, anxiety? Have sleep or eating patterns changed? Does there seem to be fear of losing control? Does the teen have low self-esteem? Does the teen have hope for the future? Is there bullying at school or on social media?

You have identified your grandchild as at risk. I personally think that a change in environment might work. There is obviously a bad “normal” going on. If possible, try something that creates a new normal. Maybe you take a month long trip with the teen, or maybe she comes to live with you for a while and you pamper her and find something she is really, really good at to give her self-esteem.

Make sure your teen has access to counseling and healthy physical activities. Limit access to medications and guns and weapons. Talk with your teen one on one and create a safe zone at your house. Try to have at least a weekly one-on-one visit where the teen can speak freely without judgment. Talk about suicide in a loving and caring way. This is more important than you might think.


Send questions on family law and divorce to, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro 27427 or at Ask Carolyn’s comment section at


Note that answers are intended to provide general legal information and are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by Ask Carolyn.