Angelina Jolie Wins Custody Case Appeal To Disqualify Judge for 'Ethical Breach'

Photo: (Photo : Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

In their long-standing fight in court, Angelina Jolie has scored a legal victory against her ex-husband, Brad Pitt. The "Maleficent" actress won her appeal to disqualify the judge they hired for the private proceedings of their divorce and custody case.

Jolie, 46, has asked the court to remove Judge John W. Ouderkirk from their divorce case for "ethical breach." Lawyers of the actress said that the judge did not disclose that he has been working with Pitt's lawyers as a professional counsel on other cases.

The actress' legal team argued that Ouderkirk's business relationship with Pitt, 57, could influence the judge's partiality. In May 2021, Ouderkirk ruled to favor Pitt in granting joint custody of their five minor children -- Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 15, and the twins, Knox and Vivienne, 12. The couple's oldest child, Maddox, is 19.

On Friday, the 2nd District Court of Appeal in California granted Jolie's request to disqualify Ouderkirk from hearing the ex-couple's case. Pitt's lawyers said that the appeal would not change Ouderkirk's decision to award joint custody.

Jolie-Pitt Kids Could Testify

The actress filed for the disqualification of Ouderkirk in August 2020, but the lower court said her request was too late. Jolie's lawyers then appealed this decision.

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Winning the appeal will mean that Jolie and Pitt's kids could speak in court and testify during the custody hearing. According to reports, Jolie was upset when Ouderkirk barred her children from speaking in court, saying that they were not given a fair trial.

She also said that the judge failed to uphold a section in the Family Code of California when Ouderkirk granted joint custody to her ex-husband, stating that it would be detrimental to the welfare of the kids to be with a person who inclines towards domestic violence.

As a result of the appeal, Jolie and Pitt's custody battle could restart as a new trial. The judge has already granted their divorce but conducted a separate hearing for child custody.

Maddox Jolie-Pitt's Testimony

In March, Maddox, who was not part of the custody case, testified for his parents in court, but sources told Us Weekly that the boy's account "wasn't very flattering" for his father. The sources also said Maddox only uses the surname Jolie in legal documents though her mother doesn't support the idea as he is a Jolie-Pitt.

Around the same time, Jolie also submitted additional documents stating that her other kids would be willing to testify about Pitt's history of violence. In 2016, the actor was investigated by the Department of Children and Family Service in Los Angeles for child abuse. He was cleared of the allegations, but the case remains open due to the ex-couple's custody battle. However, friends close to the actor said that Jolie has been using her children to hurt their father.

Jolie and Pitt, who lived together for ten years before marrying for two years, have been legally single as of early 2019. Pitt's friends said that he hasn't seen nor spoken to Maddox nor Pax for over a year.

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