Brad Pitt And Angelina Jolie's Legal Drama With Their Divorce Judge Explained

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were together for 12 years and share six children together that they both love dearly. So, when their relationship came to an end in 2016, it's no surprise that the stars got into a custody battle, with both actors desperate to keep their kids with them. Although the divorce proceedings began many years ago, there's been so much back and forth that the legal spat is still raging on today.

In 2016, Jolie was temporarily granted full custody of her children, while Pitt was given visitation rights, with the first visit requiring a therapist's presence and assessment. In 2018, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County urged Jolie to help her kids foster a good relationship with Pitt for their own well-being. Jolie was encouraged to tell her children that their father was not a threat to them and wanted to be part of their lives. In addition, she was ordered to give the kids' contact information to Pitt, and the "Fight Club" actor was granted more time with them. 

In August of that year, Jolie accused Pitt of failing to meet his fiscal child support requirements, and Pitt clapped back, claiming that he had paid over $1 million in child support and loaned Jolie $8 million for a family home. The custody battle went to trial in October 2020, with Judge John W. Ouderkirk presiding over the rulings, and Pitt was granted 50/50 custody in May 2021. However, it didn't end there because Jolie claimed that Ouderkirk wasn't entirely transparent about his relations with Pitt's team.

Angelina Jolie believed Judge Ouderkirk wasn't an independent third party

Judge John W. Ouderkirk is no stranger to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, as he was the man who officiated their wedding in 2014. So, it's ironic that he was hired as a private judge to oversee their custody battle. After Ouderkirk's ruling, Jolie claimed that he hadn't disclosed his ties with Pitt's attorneys at an appropriate time. She initially tried to get Ouderkirk off the case by appealing to the Superior Court, but the request was denied because the connection was established too late. 

However, a three-judge panel from California's Second District Court of Appeals accepted the appeal, and Ouderkirk was removed from the case with immediate effect. The panel ruled that "Judge Ouderkirk's ethical breach, considered together with the information disclosed concerning his recent professional relationships with Pitt's counsel, might cause an objective person, aware of all the facts, reasonably to entertain a doubt as to the judge's ability to be impartial. Disqualification is required," per The Independent.

After Ouderkirk's removal, Pitt's lawyers insisted that the ties had been disclosed several times since 2017, and slammed the move as a way to keep Pitt away from his kids for even longer. Ouderkirk's disqualification means there's the possibility of a re-trial with a new judge, but the legal proceedings have taken so long that three of the six Jolie-Pitt children are now adults, with the remaining three turning 18 in a couple of years. Additionally, both parties have raked up millions of dollars in legal fees. 

Angelina Jolie might be pushing back for good reason

In 2016, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, and their six children were on a private plane while he was heavily intoxicated. According to court documents obtained by Vanity Fair, Pitt was furious because he believed Jolie was trying to isolate his children from him. At one point, he and Jolie were arguing loudly in the bathroom, and Pitt allegedly shook her shoulders and grabbed her by the head while accusing her of tearing the family apart. 

The children heard this confrontation and asked if their mother was okay, and Pitt claimed that she had lost her mind. When the children tried protecting Jolie, Pitt allegedly tried to choke one of them and hit another in the face. He also supposedly poured beer on his family when they were asleep and spent the rest of the flight ranting. Jolie filed for divorce a few days after the incident. It's believed that the incident was the start of a strained relationship between Brad Pitt and his eldest son, Maddox

In a statement released to People, Pitt agreed that a heated confrontation took place where the children were regrettably involved. However, he denied hitting his child in the face and claimed he had to use his hands because of the intensity of the situation. In November 2016, Pitt was cleared of child abuse allegations stemming the incident, During the trial, Pitt's attorney team called upon several witnesses to testify about his parenting skills and supposedly heard favorable things.