Angelina Jolie says choose will not let youngsters testify in Brad Pitt custody battle
Angelina Jolie criticized a judge who decides on custody of her divorce with Brad Pitt, and said in a court case that the judge had refused to allow her children to testify.
Jolie, who has tried to exclude Judge John Ouderkirk from the divorce proceedings, said Monday he refused to hear evidence she believed is relevant to the safety and wellbeing of the children before issuing a preliminary ruling. The documents do not elaborate on what this evidence might be.
“Judge Ouderkirk has denied Ms. Jolie a fair trial and wrongly excluded her evidence relevant to the health, safety and well-being of the children, which is vital to her case,” the filing with the California Second District Court of Appeals said .
The actress also said the judge “failed to adequately consider a section of the California Judicial Code” that states that it is detrimental to the child’s best interests to grant custody of a person with a history of domestic violence. Her filing did not include details of what it related to, but her lawyers filed a seal document in March allegedly containing additional information.
Jolie filed for divorce in 2016, days after a disagreement broke out on a private flight that took the actors and their children from France to Los Angeles. Pitt was charged with abusing his then 15-year-old son on the flight, but investigations by child welfare officials and the FBI have been closed without charges being brought against the actor. Jolie’s attorney said at the time that she filed for divorce “for the health of the family.”
Her new file states that the judge “refused to hear submissions from underage teenagers about their experiences, needs or wishes regarding their custody fate”.
Three of Jolie and Pitt’s six children are teenagers, 17-year-old Pax, 16-year-old Zahara, and 14-year-old Shiloh. The eldest, Maddox, is 19 years old and is not subject to custody. They also have 12 year old twins, Vivienne and Knox.
In response to Jolie’s filing, Pitt’s attorneys said, “Ouderkirk has conducted an extensive trial in a thorough, fair manner for the past six months and has made a preliminary decision and order after hearing experts and perceptive witnesses.”
Pitt’s files state that the judge found that Jolie’s testimony “was not credible in many important areas and that the existing custody decision between the parties must be changed at Mr. Pitt’s request in the best interests of the children.”
It is said that Jolie’s objections and further delays in reaching an agreement would “cause serious harm to children who continue to be denied stability and stability.”
It is not clear what the current custody regime looks like as the court seals most of the files. When the divorce process began, Pitt sought joint custody and Jolie sought primary custody – meaning the children would live with her more than half the time. However, changes were made that were not published.
Peter Harvey, an attorney for Jolie who is close to the case but not directly involved, said the actress supports joint custody but the situation is complicated and he cannot go into details as the trial is under lock and key.
Divorce lawyers on both sides declined to comment on the new filing.
Harvey told The Associated Press that Jolie’s family struggles have led her to take a more active role in changing the law’s approach to custody issues.
“MS. Jolie has worked privately for four and a half years both to heal her family and to struggle to improve the system to ensure other families don’t know what theirs has endured,” said Harvey, a former New Jersey attorney general worked with Jolie on political issues.
Jolie has tried to disqualify Ouderkirk, a private judge she and Pitt chose to protect their privacy, and argues that he has an improper business relationship with one of Pitt’s lawyers.
She said on the file filed on Monday that she would appeal if Ouderkirk’s preliminary custody decision is final.
Jolie (45) and Pitt (57) were among the most famous couples in Hollywood for 12 years. They had been married for two years when Jolie filed for divorce. They were declared divorced in April 2019 after their lawyers moved for a verdict that could declare a couple unmarried while other questions remained open, including finances and custody.
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