Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have been locked in a battle over custody of their children since their divorce was finalized in 2019, and a newly uncovered document shows the fight could have been even more complicated.
Lawyers for the Maleficent star, 46, filed a document in December 2020 claiming that three of her six children with Pitt, 57, wanted to testify against him during the proceedings. The former couple share Maddox, 19, Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 15, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 12.
“The children whose custody is at issue are old enough to understand what is going on,” the document obtained by Us Weekly reads. “The trial is necessarily going to impact them emotionally. Three of the children have asked to testify. To make any of the children endure what may be a futile and void proceeding is beyond unjustified. It is cruel.”
The document was filed as part of Jolie’s ongoing attempt to have Judge John Ouderkirk removed from the case because of his alleged connections to Pitt’s legal team. The actress’ lawyers argued that the children shouldn’t have even been put in the position to want to testify because the judge should have been disqualified.
The Salt star first attempted to have Ouderkirk removed in August 2020, claiming that the judge failed to disclose “ongoing business and professional relationships” with the Moneyball star’s lawyers. Two months later, however, her request was shut down and the judge remained on the case.
Earlier this year, Jolie filed additional documents alleging that the judge refused to hear evidence she believed was pertinent to the case, including her children’s testimonies. “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 documents claimed.
Maddox, who is 19 and thus no longer a minor, did testify against his father in March. “It wasn’t very flattering toward Brad,” a source told Us of the teen’s testimony. “He doesn’t use Pitt as his last name on documents that aren’t legal and instead uses Jolie. Maddox wants to legally change his last name to Jolie, which Angelina has said she doesn’t support.”
In May, Ouderkirk issued a tentative custody order giving the pair joint custody of the kids. A source told Us at the time that the Eternals star was “bitterly disappointed” with the decision and planned to use “everything she’s got” to fight the arrangement.
According to court records, a hearing is scheduled for July 9. The activist wants to use the appeal to “demonstrate clear, reversible, prejudicial legal error” on the part of Ouderkirk. Jolie’s appeal will be heard by a three-justice panel and attorneys for both parties will be given time to present their arguments.
With reporting by Marjorie Hernandez