After two years of divorce, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are headed for a custody trial.
At least, that's what will happen if they can't reach an agreement by December 4, their current deadline.
An expert in how California Family Court operates sheds some light on how the Jolie-Pitt kids could end up in separate homes.
It looks like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's division of personal property will be decided by a private judge.
And so will custody of their children -- up to a point.
HollywoodLife spoke to a California Family Law attorney, David T. Pisarra, about what could become of their six children.
Specifically, he addressed the possibility that some of these kids, whose ages range from 17 to 10, could get split up between households.
"Certainly, that can happen," Pisarra replies.
But he does note that the possbility of siblings getting divided "generally deals with older children."
But Maddox, 17, Pax, 14, Zahara, 13, Shiloh, 12, and twins Vivienne and Knox, 10, are unlikely to be ordered to separate households.
"Typically the courts want to keep all the kids together, Pisarra notes. "Because they want to maintain the continuity of the relationships."
Outside of fiction like The Parent Trap, where the parents monstrously separated infant twins, courts want siblings to know each other.
"But," Pisarra says. "If there are huge age gaps as there are with Brad and Angelina’s children, that can be a factor."
Even so, he says, "It’s generally disfavored."
Pisarra emphasizes: "and the courts try and keep the kids together."
Now, the older children in particular could ask the court to award custody to one parent over the other.
"Absolutely," Pisarra says, noting that "the parents can fight that."
"But the issue is once the kids are 14-years-old," he explains. "They have the right and opportunity to be heard by the courts."
So Pax and Maddox, at least, will get to officially choose sides -- if they choose to.
It doesn't mean that they'll have to actually enter the courtroom, though.
"The court can hear from them in many different ways, either by letter, interview by a third party, it could be in chambers with a court reporter," Pisarra says.
That's good -- speaking in court, especially about your parents, can be all kinds of intimidating.
"And it depends on what the court wants to do," Pisarra continues, depending upon "Their age and maturity."
"Maddox is 17, and technically he’s a minor, he’s more than old enough and mature enough to clearly state his wishes and desires," Pisarra notes as an example.
Brangelina split after some alleged altercation between Brad and Maddox -- one that caused Angelina to report her husband to the FBI for child abuse.
So it's expected that he, at least, is going to want to remain in his mother's custody for his remaining months as a minor.
But just because Pax is old enough to be put on the spot in this way does not mean that the judge will do so.
"Pax technically can at 14," Pisarra says. "But judges typically aren’t going to allow it because they want to keep the kids out of this as much as possible."
The wishes of the children aren't the only concern.
The court has to have reasonable confidence that the children will be safe and provided for, obviously.
Also, the court will want to minimize how much the children's lives are disrupted.
"A judge would also look at where the parents want the kids to live," Pisarra mentions.
He explains: "If Brad wanted to stay in Los Angeles and Angelina wants to live in London, that would factor into the decision."
Geography matters "because a judge might want to let the kids live in the same place they were raised."
That makes a lot of sense -- but, of course, it's only one factor in the court's decision.
Mostly this story just reminds us of what absolute monsters the parents were in The Parent Trap.
In this case, however, the parents -- and the court -- have to decide what is best for the children, not what is best for themselves.
No one knows for certain how Angelina and Brad's custody trial will go.
That is part of what is motivating them to attempt to hammer out a deal before then.
But after two years, with just a couple of weeks to go, the possibility that they'll see eye-to-eye narrows every day.
Let's hope that they get a good, wise judge.