Brad Pitt has scored a major victory in his bitter, years-long legal battle with Angelina Jolie over the custody of their children.
The “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” star was tentatively awarded joint physical and legal custody of the former couple’s minor children in a sealed decision made earlier this spring, according to multiple outlets, with a judge ruling in Pitt’s favor after Jolie’s long-standing attempts to secure sole custody.
The actors, who have been locked in a contentious divorce dispute since calling it quits in 2016, share six kids together: twins Knox and Vivienne, 12; Shiloh, 14; Zahara, 16; Pax, 17; and Maddox, 19.
Jolie plans to push back against the arrangement, as her legal team said it would appeal such a decision, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press on Monday.
In the filing, the “Maleficent” star said she was denied a fair trial due to the judge overseeing her divorce “improperly excluding her evidence relevant to the children’s health, safety, and welfare” that she believes to be “critical to making her case.”
While the documents did not specify the nature of Jolie’s evidence, her legal team said Judge John Ouderkirk “has failed to adequately consider” a California courts code that says it’s “detrimental to the best interest of the child if custody is awarded to a person with a history of domestic violence.”
If Jolie had her way, her three teenage children affected by the custody case ― Shiloh, Zahara and Pax ― would be able to testify in court, as per a separate California family code that permits children 14 and over to share what custody or visitation arrangement they would prefer. But, according to Jolie’s filing, the court “refused to hear the minor teenagers’ input as to their experiences, needs, or wishes as to their custody fate.”
In the weeks after the two split, Pitt’s fitness as a parent was called into question after an alleged altercation between the actor and his eldest son on a private plane. He was later cleared of allegations of child abuse by both the FBI and the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services in November 2016.
At the time, Jolie expressed that she was “relieved” by the results of the investigation. However, in March of this year she doubled down on her domestic violence claim, telling the court that she and her children are willing to provide “proof and authority in support” of Pitt’s alleged abuse, according to Entertainment Tonight.
Pitt’s legal team has responded to Jolie’s most recent filing, claiming that his estranged wife’s attempts to impede a custody agreement “work grave harm upon the children, who will be further denied permanence and stability,” according to the AP.
“Ouderkirk has conducted an extensive proceeding over the past six months in a thorough, fair manner and reached a tentative ruling and order after hearing from experts and percipient witnesses,” Pitt’s attorneys said.
Last year, Jolie’s legal team requested the removal of Ouderkirk, claiming he was “biased” for failing to “disclose the cases that demonstrated the current, ongoing, repeat-customer relationship” with Pitt’s attorneys. Her request, however, was denied in November.
Pitt hit back at Jolie at the time, calling her attempt to disqualify Ouderkirk a “thinly-veiled attempt by Jolie to delay the adjudication of long-pending custody issues in this case.”
Jolie recently moved to Los Angeles to be closer to Pitt, whom the kids reportedly see on regular visits. Speaking with British Vogue in March, she told the outlet that she’s still recovering from the breakdown of her marriage.
“I’ve been focusing on healing our family,” she said. “It’s slowly coming back, like the ice melting and the blood returning to my body.”
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