Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie’s Explosive Custody Battle: A Full Breakdown Of Their Fight Over Their 6 Kids

The custody battle between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie seems like it will never end. As these two fight over their kids, here’s a look at how these once-lovers ended up on opposite ends of a bitter, legal fight.

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Image Credit: AP Images

  • Brad Pitt is an actor, and Angelina Jolie is an actress.
  • They were married from 2014 until 2019.
  • The former couple share six children together.
  • Since their split in 2016, they have been going through a bitter custody battle.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt split in September 2016, and four years later, an end might be in sight to their bitter legal battle over their children. Brad and Angie have gone back and forth over who gets to spend time with their kids – Maddox, 21, Pax, 19, Zahara, 18, Shiloh, 17,  and 14-year-old twins Knox, and Vivienne – and it all came to a head in October 2020. Despite their best efforts to avoid a trial, Brad and Angie headed to court with a list of 20-plus witnesses, including Angie’s Girl, Interrupted co-star Jillian Armenante. Afterward, one of Angie’s lawyers removed herself from the case, and this might be a sign that this long legal war is at an end. But, how did these once star-struck lovers get to this point?

August 2016: Angelina Files For Divorce.

Brad and Angie’s custody battle began on Sept. 19, 2016, when Angelina filed for divorce. The split came less than a month after their two-year wedding anniversary, ending a relationship that began on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith in 2004.

The divorce came after a tumultuous flight. On Sept. 14, 2016, Angelina and the kids rode a 12-passenger luxury bus to the private jet terminal in Nice, France. Brad met them there, and they boarded a chartered Bombardier Global Express plane. It landed in International Falls, Minnesota. Sometime during the fight, Pitt and Jolie reportedly got into an argument that became aggressive. The authorities were alerted. The Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services opened an investigation, as did the FBI because the incident happened on an airplane.

In Aug. 2022, a redacted FBI report surfaced in the media after “someone identifying herself only as Jane Doe filed several Freedom of Information Act requests to access the FBI’s incident report,” per Vanity Fair. The redacted report said that Pitt had a “confrontation with one of the children” (which is believed to be Maddox) before the plane took off. In the air, Brad “accused [Jolie] of being too deferential to the children.”Jolie’s cross-complaint claims that Pitt told her to “come here,” and he led her to a bathroom in the back of the plane where he allegedly began yelling at her. She claims he “grabbed Jolie by the head and shook her, and then grabbed her shoulders and shook her again.” When one of the kids confronted Pitt, he allegedly “lunged” at the child, per the complaint.

Angelina allegedly “grabbed [Brad] from behind,” but he threw himself into the airplane’s seat to get her off of him. Jolie accused Pitt of choking “one of the children and [striking] another in the face” during the flight. She also claimed he once poured beer on her and the children as they tried to sleep under blankets. When they landed in Minnesota, Angelina allegedly attempted to get the kids off the plane to resume the trip to California the following day, but Brad wouldn’t let that happen. The trip continued onto Burbank, where Angelina planned to take the kids to a hotel.

“You’re not taking my f–king kids,” Brad yelled, according to the FBI report. He “shook Jolie by the head and shoulders.” Representatives of DCFS were on the tarmac when the plane arrived. Five days later, Angelina filed for divorce.

Brat Pitt, Pax Thien Jolie-Pitt, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, Maddox Jolie-Pitt, Jane Pitt, and William Pitt at the premiere of “Unbroken”. (Los Angeles, CA) (AP)

September 2016: Angelina Gets Temporary Full Custody

Initially, Angelina requested full custody of their six children (Maddox, at the time, was still a minor), and she got it. In this temporary custody agreement, she got full custody, and Brad was granted visitation rights. However, these visits had to be done with a therapist present, and Brad could, at the time, be subject to a random drug test.

Pitt was never charged over the incident with the plane.“After reviewing the document, [a] representative of the United States Attorney’s Office discussed the merits of this investigation with the case agent,” the FBI report read. “It was agreed by all parties that criminal charges, in this case, would not be pursued due to several factors.”

“I hope you’ll give some grace to somebody who had a breakdown,” says one person who knew the family to Vanity Fair. “Everybody was shocked by the eruption on the plane, because Brad is not an abusive person. But even more devastating was what came afterwards: Brad being alienated from those he loves most—his children.”

The incident made Brad sober up. In a 2019 interview with The New York Times, talked about how he got sober after the divorce and spent time in recovery with Alcoholics Anonymous. I had taken things as far as I could take it, so I removed my drinking privileges,” he said.

November 2016: A Temp Agreement & Brad Gets Cleared Of Child Abuse

Two months after Angelina filed for divorce, the couple settled on a temporary custody agreement. The deal required both Angie and Brad to engage in group therapy with the kids and that Brad could only see his kids after getting approval from a court-appointed psychologist.

That month also saw Brad get cleared of any child abuse allegations stemming from the alleged “confrontation” with Maddox. The Department of Child and Family Services found that the children were safe, and Angie’s legal team issued a statement saying she was “relieved that after their 8-week involvement, the DCFS is now satisfied the safeguards are put in place that will allow the children to heal.”

January 2017: Documents Get Sealed

At the end of 2016, Brad requested to have all their divorce and custody documents sealed from the public. In his documents, Brad claimed that Angie was “determined to ignore” the “children’s best interest” by allowing these details to go public. Angie’s legal team fired back, saying that Brad was actually “terrified that the public will learn the truth.” Ultimately, both Brad and Angie reached an agreement to seal the documents.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are seen walking with children Maddox, right, Zahara, front right, and Pax, left, in Venice, Italy, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010. (AP Images)

June 2018: Angie Ordered To Repair The Kids’ Relationship With Brad

Things remained relatively quiet for over a year. However, tensions flared back up in June 2018. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County ruled that Angie was at risk of losing custody of her kids because she wasn’t doing enough to ensure they had a good relationship with their father. “It is critical that each of them have a healthy and strong relationship,” the court ruled, which resulted in a temporary “summer” custody agreement. Brad was given an increase in custody over the summer months, allowing him to text, call, and spend more time with the kids without Angie present.

August 2018: A Bitter Back-And-Forth Over Child Support

At the end of summer 2018, things heated up between Brad and Angie. First, she accused Brad of not paying “meaningful” child support for over a year and a half. Through his own legal documents, Brad responded by saying he loaned Angelina $8 million so she could buy a home and an additional $1.8 million to help with bills. Angie’s team then responded by saying, “A loan is not, however, child support, and to represent it as such is misleading and inaccurate.”

November 2018: A Custody Agreement Is Reached (For Now)

December 4, 2018. That was when Brad and Angie’s custody trial was supposed to start since the couple hadn’t worked out a custody agreement. However, right as the legal battle was supposed to start, the two hammered out a deal, sparring them – supposedly – a long, drawn-out public courtroom fight. In this new agreement, Brad got “less than 50% custody” but saw an increase in his “custodial time with the kids.” It wasn’t the 50/50 split that Brad wanted, but it was a good stopgap measure.

Angelina Jolie was spotted doing some shopping with her kids at Whole Foods Market during a family day out in West Hollywood. (Backgrid)

April 2020: Brad and Angie Are Legally Single

Nearly three years after splitting, a judge ruled that Angie and Brad were “legally single.” This legal status – called “bifurcation” – didn’t finalize the divorce or finalize the custody, but it was a step in the right direction.

August 2020: More Legal Drama

Despite reaching an agreement in November 2018, Angie and Brad were back at it again when the couple failed to reach an accord regarding the private judge they sought to adjudicate their divorce case. Angie requested that Judge John W. Ouderkirk be removed and replaced. She alleged the judge has a relationship with Brad’s attorney. However, attempts to get the judge replaced were denied.

October 2020: They Go To Court

Four years and countless clashes later, Brad and Angie ended up in court. He wanted 50/50 custody of their five children. The trial, which took place from Oct. 5 to 23, saw a list of 20+ witnesses take the stand, including former personal assistants, bodyguards, a security expert, medical professionals, a family friend, and the previously mentioned Girl, Interrupted co-star Jillian Armenante.

May 2021: Brad Pitt Gets Joint Custody

Judge John Ouderkirk ruled to have the Moneyball actor significantly increase his time with his then-five minor children. The judge’s ruling was based upon extensive testimony from people who spent time with the children, including therapists and child services professionals.

June 2023: Angelina & Brad Battle On

As of June 2023, three of Brad and Angie’s kids are now over 18, and Vanity Fair reports that the rest live with their mother. Brad shares custody and visits them. While the custody battle seems settled, Brad and Angie continue to wage war in the courts over other issues, including the sale of their Miraval winery.