Well, it looks like another long celebrity legal battle has come to a close. After a nearly five-year-long fight, Brad Pitt has reportedly been granted joint custody of his children with Angelina Jolie. The former couple shares six children — Maddox, 19, Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 14, and 12-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox — but their eldest is not subject to the ruling. Regardless, a Page Six source claimed that the custody decision was only “tentative” and that Jolie plans on taking more legal action moving forward.
According to the outlet, the exes hired Judge John Ouderkirk to privately oversee the case. After hearing months of witness testimony, Page Six’s source said that there was “a significant change made in the custody agreements” and that Ouderkirk made “an extremely detailed decision.” The decision was not based solely on what people close to the family had witnessed, but also on testimony from child services professionals who spoke directly to their children.
“Brad was just trying to have more time with his kids — and it has been clear that Angie has done everything possible to prevent this,” Page Six’s insider said, adding that there were a ton of “witnesses, experts, therapists and other people who have been with the kids and around them” whose testimonies were taken into consideration. A source also told the outlet that Jolie doesn’t necessarily oppose joint custody with Pitt. “There were other issues of concern, but the court proceedings are closed and sealed,” they said.
One of the major issues that the Maleficent star had with Ouderkirk’s handling of the case was that he didn’t allow her and Pitt’s kids to personally testify. Per the Associated Press, Jolie claimed that he “refused to hear the minor teenagers’ input as to their experiences, needs, or wishes as to their custody fate.” Under California law, children 14 and older can state a custodial preference, unless the judge believes it to be detrimental. And since the children weren’t allowed to testify, Jolie claimed that information crucial to their safety was being ignored.
According to a filing in California’s Second District Court of Appeal, “Judge Ouderkirk denied Ms. Jolie a fair trial, improperly excluding her evidence relevant to the children’s health, safety, and welfare, evidence critical to making her case.” Per Page Six, the actor also alleged that Ouderkirk didn’t consider what might happen if a person with a history of domestic violence is awarded custody. The outlet reported that one court filing label was marked as a “testimony regarding domestic violence,” but that the documents were sealed so they weren’t able to access the evidence inside.
Jolie and Pitt officially wed in 2014, but the Salt actor filed for divorce roughly two years later following an alleged altercation on a private jet between Pitt and their son Maddox. The actor was never charged, but Jolie’s attorney said that she was pursuing a divorce “for the health of the family.” According to Us Weekly, Jolie filed new court documents in March claiming that she and her children were willing to offer “proof and authority in support” of their domestic violence claims against Pitt.
In response to Jolie’s March filing, sources close to the Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood actor told the magazine that “there have been a number of claims made by Angelina that have been reviewed and not substantiated” over the last four years. “The children have been used by Angelina to hurt Brad before and this is more of that behavior. This leaking of documents by her fourth or fifth set of lawyers has been done to hurt Brad.” Pitt said in his own filing that his ex-wife “lacked credibility.” Jolie, for her part, made a legal bid to disqualify Ouderkirk from the case last year, but a ruling hasn’t yet been made. Whenever that happens, Ouderkirk’s most recent custody decision could potentially be thrown away.
Bustle has reached out to Jolie and Pitt’s reps for comment and will update this story if we hear back.