Los Angeles divorce attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan, who has represented celebrities including Kevin Federline, Charlie Sheen and Paula Abdul but is not affiliated with the Mr. & Mrs. Smith costars’ case, is weighing in on what the actress’ win means for the exes moving forward. The high-powered Hollywood lawyer estimates that Jolie, 46, and Pitt, 57, have already spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not in the millions” on litigation.
“And it could be more if they start over again,” Kaplan exclusively tells Us Weekly. “Nothing is more expensive than a hotly contested custody [dispute]. I’m sure both of these people can afford to [keep litigating], which is not the reason to do it, but that’s probably not going to be a major factor for either of them given their respective wealth.”
Us confirmed on Friday, July 23, that Jolie’s petition to remove Judge John Ouderkirk from the custody case was granted. The California Court of Appeal made the ruling, determining that the judge failed his ethical duty by not disclosing his ongoing cases that involved Pitt’s attorneys in a timely manner. Ouderkirk previously claimed that the Maleficent star “clearly failed” to prove any form of bias on his part.
“The case has been sent back to the Los Angeles Superior Court,” a source exclusively told Us earlier this month. “Judge Ouderkirk is no longer involved and Angelina is grateful to seek a fair decision regarding custody for the children.”
The ruling means that Jolie and Pitt’s current custody arrangement could be overturned, with the proceedings starting over again. Ouderkirk granted the actor joint custody of their children — Maddox, 19, Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 15, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 13 — in May. Kaplan acknowledges that the development is not an instant win for the Eternals actress, though.
“She’s still got an uphill battle because now there is historical observation rather than future projection [of how the children are doing],” the legal expert tells Us.
The judge’s removal did not shake Pitt either. “The appeals court ruling was based on a technical procedural issue. The facts haven’t changed,” a spokesperson for the Fight Club star told Us in a statement on Friday. “There is an extraordinary amount of factual evidence which led the judge — and the many experts who testified — to reach their clear conclusion about what is in the children’s best interests. We will continue to do what’s necessary legally based on the detailed findings of what’s best for the children.”
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With reporting by Marjorie Hernandez