Jolie petitioned for the removal of the judge who ruled for joint custody claiming he had not fully disclosed his professional dealings with Pitt's attorneys.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, better known as "Brangelina" were Hollywood's power couple from 2005 to 2016. They were couple goals with their stunning looks and a growing brood of children. Their separation after a 12-year relationship and two years of marriage came as a shock to everyone. Although the two have been tight-lipped about their decision to separate, Jolie mentioned it was for the "wellbeing of my family." At the time, the two took to co-parenting their six children Maddox, 20, Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 15, and 13-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox. But soon they were locking heads in a custody battle for the children.
After a five-year legal battle, Pitt won joint custody of his children with Jolie. But this was challenged by Jolie who wanted the removal of Judge John W. Ouderkirk who had not fully disclosed his professional dealings with Pitt's attorneys. In fact, Ouderkirk had even officiated the couple's wedding in 2014. “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,” the court documents read as per Us Weekly. Ouderkirk denied these claims and said that Jolie had failed to prove any form of bias in the case. He also stated: “The Objection to my continued service does not change my ability to objectively view and evaluate the evidence presented by both sides and apply the law impartially.”
But he was removed from the case anyway and an insider revealed: “The case has been sent back to the Los Angeles Superior Court. Judge Ouderkirk is no longer involved and Angelina is grateful to seek a fair decision regarding custody for the children.” Pitt has responded to this ruling by filing a petition of his own with the California Supreme Court to review the case. The petition, accessed by E! Online states, "After more than four years of contentious litigation, every day of which has harmed the children and their father, an important and considered custody decision will be entirely undone as a result of an administrative error that is wholly unrelated to the merits of the custody dispute itself."
Pitt is accusing his ex-wife of waiting three and a half years to seek disqualification of the judge. His lawyer, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr said this type of "strategic" disqualification can "cause irreparable harm" to the children and families involved "by unnecessarily prolonging" the legal battle and added, "Allowing this kind of crafty litigation strategy will deprive parents of irreplaceable time with their children." On the other hand, Jolie's legal team has praised the court's ruling. Pitt's team is hoping to fight this decision by claiming that any error made by Ouderkirk was minor and not worth canceling his ruling. They also claimed that Jolie was looking for any reason to get the jurist removed from the case."
A California appeals court disqualified a private judge being used by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in their divorce case, handing Jolie a big win. The ruling means the custody fight over the couple’s children, which was almost over, could be starting over. https://t.co/48WA6C8n3J— The Associated Press (@AP) July 23, 2021
“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,” Pitt’s lawyers said in a statement as reported by Page Six. “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,” his lawyers added.
Jolie's lawyer, Robert A. Olson told USA Today that Pitt's legal team's petition to the California Supreme Court "displays how they are clinging to this private judge who exhibited bias and refused statutorily required evidence," calling it "disturbing" that Pitt's counsel would seek to reinstate Ouderkirk "having previously failed to disclose their new and ongoing financial relationships with him." He also added that Jolie "hopes Mr. Pitt will instead join with her in focusing on the children’s needs, voices, and healing."