Brad Pitt, 57, is asking the California Supreme Court to review his ongoing custody battle with ex-wife Angelina Jolie, 46, after being given joint custody of their five minor children in a temporary ruling, according to new court documents, and a family law attorney is telling us why it’s likely the judge will keep the ruling for the longer term. Sabrina Shaheen Cronin, founder and managing partner of The Cronin Law Firm, JD, MBA, says if the actor can “prove” there’s been “a substantial change of circumstances” in the review, then he will probably be “successful.”
“Since most of the filings pertaining to custody are sealed, it is difficult to determine whether or not Brad will be successful in his goals,” Cronin EXCLUSIVELY tells HollywoodLife. “If Brad is able to prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the entry of the Judgment of Divorce that warrants joint custody rather than full custody with Angelina, then he will be successful.”
Part of what that means is that the new judge in the case will have to agree with Judge John Ouderkirk, who granted Brad with temporary joint custody in May before getting disqualified by a California appeals court just two months later, leaving Angelina with full custody. “Based upon the ruling back in May, if the new judge agrees with Judge Ouderkirk, then it is probable that the ruling will stand,” Cronin confirmed.
Cronin also explained that even though Judge Ouderkirk was removed from the case, his ruling for Brad will most likely stay into effect because it was made before the disqualification, which was requested by Angelina. “Since the ruling from Judge Ouderkirk was entered prior to the Motion for Disqualification filed by Angelina Jolie, it is likely that his ruling in May will stand until the situation is reviewed by another judge,” Cronin said. “When an Order is entered by a judge, and it is not timely appealed or an appeal of the decision is denied, that Order stands unless and until a new Motion is brought forth to challenge it and alleges new circumstances by which a custody arrangement should be modified.”
When asked how hard it is to get joint custody in California, Cronin said that, “According to the California Family Code, there is a presumption that joint custody is in the best interest of a minor child.”
She added, “A presumption in the law is always rebuttable, meaning that if a party disagrees with the presumption, they are able to present evidence to the contrary and argue their position. In California, when a party challenges the presumption of joint custody being best, the court is required to consider the arguments of the parties and render a decision that states its specific factual findings. The difficulty of achieving an arrangement other than joint custody depends on the specific circumstances of each case and will ultimately be up to the judge to determine.”
It turns out some of Brad and Angelina’s minor kids, including Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 15, and 12-year-old Vivienne, and Knox (oldest son Maddox is 19 and therefore considered an adult), can also help determine whether or not Brad gets to keep joint custody. “In California, if a child is old enough and aware enough to form an intelligent preference, the court will give weight to that child’s preference,” Cronin shared. “It will be up to the judge to determine if the children are able to provide intelligent preferences and if it would be in the best interest of the child to state their preferences. With the minor children ranging in age from 13-17, it is very possible that the court may consider listening to their opinions if they feel the need to speak out about their preferences.”
As far as when the ruling will come, Cronin says a case like this could take anywhere from “a day to months” and multiple hearings are likely.
Angelina and Brad first started dating in 2005 and got married in 2014. They split just two years later.