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Why Brad Pitt’s Kids Turned Against Him Amid His Ongoing Divorce Battle With Angelina Jolie (Exclusive)

On her 18th birthday in late May, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s daughter Shiloh Jolie-Pitt submitted a petition to the Los Angeles court to have her father’s last name removed from her surname.

According to an insider close to the matter, reports that Shiloh hired — and paid for — her own lawyer to handle her case are true.

“Brad was devastated by this choice,” a source exclusively shared in the latest issue of Us Weekly. “To him, it was more than a change of name — it was a symbol of a deeper estrangement that has been brewing for years.”

It’s the third time one of Brad’s children has publicly denounced his last name. Last November, Shiloh’s older sister, Zahara, 19, introduced herself as Zahara Marley Jolie at a sorority initiation ceremony at Spelman College, and in May, Brad and Angelina’s youngest daughter, Vivienne, was credited as Vivienne Jolie in the playbill for the Broadway musical The Outsiders, which the 15-year-old coproduced with her mom.

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Brad, 60, and Angelina, 49 — who split in September 2016 — also share Maddox, 22, Pax, 20, and Vivienne’s twin brother, Knox.

By all appearances, it seems all six of the A-list exes’ children have sided with their mom as the two stars continue to battle it out in court over custody issues and their French winery, Château Miraval.

Why Brad Pitt’s Kids Turned Against Him
Samir Hussein/WireImage

“Sadly, Brad doesn’t have much of a relationship with his kids,” says a second source. “He’s not ready to give up on them, but knowing they are dropping his name is upsetting.”

Adds a third source: “Brad’s putting on a brave face, but behind closed doors, he’s finding it extremely difficult to come to terms with [what’s happening].”

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The third insider says the children’s decision to distance themselves from Brad stems from their fierce loyalty to their mom.

“They’ve struggled to forgive and connect with Brad since the divorce,” the source explains. “Their mom is the head of the household, and she’s raised them with love and selflessness their whole lives. Once Brad left, it was very hard for them to see him go to war with her.”

Maddox and Pax are said to have no contact with Brad. (In an alleged resurfaced Instagram post that Pax posted on Father’s Day in 2020, he called the star a “world-class a–hole.”)

“Sadly, their rift has only widened over time,” says the first source. “The boys found it difficult to reconcile with Brad despite his repeated apologies and efforts to rebuild trust.”

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Adds the third source: “Brad’s relationship with Maddox and Pax is nonexistent at this point, and he barely, if ever, hears from Zahara.”

In 2022 court papers, Angelina alleged that a drunken Brad assaulted and verbally abused her and two of their children during a trip aboard a private plane in 2016. Her filing stated that the F.B.I. agent who investigated allegations had concluded that the government had probable cause to charge Pitt with a federal crime. Subsequently, the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to press charges.

Why Brad Pitt’s Kids Turned Against Him
Karwai Tang/WireImage

A fifth source notes that there “was a reason” there were no charges against Brad. “Angelina is the one who is going after him through Miraval and won’t let up, Brad is just trying to see his children, not tear her or her businesses down,” the insider adds.

Pitt has denied in the past that he was abusive.

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“Maddox was very affected by that incident, and he’s taken it upon himself to be Angelina’s protector,” says the third source, who adds that the older boys’ opinions of Brad “rubbed off on” the younger kids.

The insider tells Us Shiloh’s name change is “connected” to the alleged “abuse history,” noting, “That’s part of it.”

According to the insider, Shiloh was one of the kids who wanted to testify on her custody arrangement preferences in a 2021 hearing, but Brad objected. The judge sided with him and awarded him joint custody. However, a court later agreed with Angelina’s appeal to remove the judge, as he hadn’t disclosed his business relationships with Brad’s lawyers.

The second source says Brad’s once-solid connection with Shiloh weakened over time. “She [used to be] very close with Brad and his family, but that relationship [changed] in recent years,” the insider adds.

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A fourth source says it’s a similar situation with Vivienne and Knox. “They used to have Facetime calls when they were apart and he was much more involved in their lives, but the dynamic has shifted,” the insider notes.

The third source says Brad still sporadically sees Vivienne, Knox and Shiloh at his Los Feliz mansion, located just a few blocks away from Angelina’s home.

Why Brad Pitt’s Kids Turned Against Him
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

“Brad makes a big effort to spoil the kids when they hang out,” says the source. “He orders their favorite foods and makes the most of those few hours.”

Brad doesn’t make his dealings with the kids public. “He’s very private, and does everything he can not to be photographed,” says the second source, claiming that Angelina “is the opposite.”

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The Eternals star is “very aware of when she’s being watched and is cognizant of her image [as a doting mom].”

The insider points out that Angelina has a public-facing role outside of her acting work, having spent more than 20 years working with the UN Refugee Agency.

“After the incident on the plane, she shifted her focus to also supporting survivors of domestic violence and children impacted by abuse in America,” the source says.

Multiple sources say Brad blames Angelina for the tense family dynamics. “He feels that the negative narrative Angelina presents to the kids is a major obstacle in his efforts to reconnect,” explains the first source. “With Angelina having daily influence over the children, Brad finds it nearly impossible to change their perceptions.”

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The fifth source says, “This is textbook parental alienation,” and claims Angelina “targeted Shiloh from the start because she was the closest to Brad.”

Angelina, meanwhile, is adamant the kids have made up their own minds. “They know what they saw. For anyone to suggest she’s controlled them is off base,” says the third source.

According to the insider, Brad blaming Angelina for the fallout with his children is off base. “You don’t get to physically assault your wife and kids, then sue her and say, ‘But she turned my kids against me.’ That’s not OK. He’s still trying to punish her for standing up against his abuse,” explains the insider. “He really just needs to let her go and, most importantly, finally let their children heal and find peace. This has been [Angelina’s] priority all along.”

The war between the exes rages on. In 2022, Brad sued Angelina for selling her stake in Château Miraval — estimated to be worth $500 million — to a Russian billionaire.

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This April, in court filings related to the case, Angelina’s legal team leveled new claims at Brad, alleging he was physically abusive toward Angelina “well before the family’s September 2016 plane trip.”

In May, Brad’s lawyers submitted a declaration from security company owner Tony Webb (who worked for Angelina from 2000 until 2020) claiming she encouraged the children to “avoid spending time” with Brad during his custody visits.

Brad’s hopeful the kids will come around in time. “He’s apologized profusely for his past actions and acknowledges his anger issues and the influence of alcohol on his behavior,” says the first source, noting that the actor cleaned up his life by getting sober and starting therapy shortly after his split from Angelina.

In a 2017 GQ interview, he admitted to his shortcomings as a parent: “I grew up with a Father-knows-best/war mentality… instead of really knowing the man and his own self-doubt and struggles. And it’s hit me smack in the face with our divorce: I gotta be more. I gotta be more for them. I have to show them. And I haven’t been great at it.”

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While Brad’s strained relationship with his children remains a source of sorrow, he’s found joy in other areas of his life. He’s been busy working on his upcoming Formula 1 racing movie, and his thriller Wolfs with longtime pal George Clooney is set to premiere in September.

He’s also found love with jewelry designer Ines de Ramon, whom he’s been dating since November 2022. “His career and relationship are in a great place,” says the third source. “But he’s desperate for peace with his kids.”

Speaking with GQ, Brad revealed he was determined to put family first. “People on their deathbeds don’t talk about what they obtained or were awarded. They talk about their loved ones or their regrets,” he shared. At this point, “all he can do is be the best father he can possibly be,” adds the third source. “He adores his children and always will.”

For more on Brad Pitt, watch the exclusive video above and pick up the latest issue of Us Weekly — on newsstands now.

With reporting by Travis Cronin, Sarah Jones, Andrea Simpson & Amanda Williams

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