Once again, Brad Pitt, 57, found himself asking the California Supreme Court to review his ongoing custody battle with ex-wife Angelina Jolie, 46, and once again, he’s found himself hitting a roadblock. In September, Brad’s attorneys petitioned the high court to review the case after Judge John Ouderkirk was taken off the case, and the previous ruling that granted Brad joint custody of his five minor children was voided. On Oct 27, the high court upheld the appellate court’s disqualification, which was a blow to Brad’s quest to get more time with his little ones.
The decisions “was based on a technical procedural issue,” a rep for Brad told HollywoodLife. “The Supreme Court’s decision not to review that procedural issue does not change the extraordinary amount of factual evidence which led the trial judge — and the many experts who testified — to reach their clear conclusion about what is in the children’s best interests.”
The terms of the custody arrangement as it stands now were laid out when Angelina was recently handed a big win in the case, according to new court documents obtained by HollywoodLife. In the documents, which were filed by Brad’s legal team on Aug. 31, the Ocean’s Thirteen actor argues that Angelina was unfairly given full custody of their five minor children when Judge John Ouderkirk was disqualified from overseeing the custody battle in July 2021. HollywoodLife reached out to both Brad and Angelina’s reps for comment.
“We are seeking review in the California Supreme Court because the temporary judge, who had been appointed and repeatedly renewed by both sides, was improperly disqualified after providing a detailed, fact-based custodial decision, following a lengthy legal process with multiple witnesses and experts,” Brad’s lawyer Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. of GIBSON DUNN told HollywoodLife. “The lower court’s ruling will reward parties who are losing child custody cases, and condone their gamesmanship, by allowing them to wait and see about the likely direction of the case before seeking the disqualification of the judge. Condoning the use of this type of strategic ‘lie in wait’ disqualification challenge will cause irreparable harm to both the children and families involved in this case, and other families in other cases, by unnecessarily prolonging the resolution of these disputes in an already overburdened court system. Allowing this kind of crafty litigation strategy will deprive parents of irreplaceable time with their children as judges are disqualified for minor reasons in the midst of their cases. The lower court’s ruling is bad for children and bad for California’s overburdened judicial system.”
Angelina’s team, however, has yet to reply to our request for comment.
Brad was granted joint custody of the former couple’s children back in May 2021. However, Angelina vehemently fought that decision, and California’s Second District Court of Appeal eventually removed Judge Ouderkirk from the case in July 2021 and thus undid his prior rulings. In the court docs, Brad reportedly said that that decision to disqualify Judge Ouderkirk was a “dangerous” ruling that was made due to an “administrative error.” Overall, Brad and his legal team are asking California’s top court to review that ruling.
Judge Ouderkirk’s disqualification was a big win for Angelina. The Maleficent star’s legal team argued that Judge Ouderkirk was withholding information on other legal proceedings involving Brad’s legal counseling, and thus should be removed from the case. On July 23, a panel of three appellate judges found that Judge Ouderkirk — who married Brad and Angelina back in 2014 — “violated his ethical obligations” and disqualified him. A spokesperson for Brad responded to Angelina’s court victory at the time, telling HollywoodLife, “The appeals court ruling was based on a technical procedural issue, but the facts haven’t changed. There is an extraordinary amount of factual evidence which led the judge – and the many experts who testified – to reach their clear conclusion about what is in the children’s best interests.”
Brad and Angelina’s custody battle involves their five minor children: Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 15, and 13-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox. Their eldest child, Maddox, 20, is no longer part of the custody case due to being legally an adult. The exes, formerly known as “Brangelina,” originally linked up romantically in 2005. They married in Aug. 2014, before splitting just two years later.