Angelina Jolie scored a big win in their divorce with on Friday Brad Pitt when a California appeals court agreed that the private judge who decides who has custody of her children should be disqualified.
The 2nd District Court of Appeals agreed with Jolie that Judge John W. Ouderkirk had failed to adequately disclose business relationships with Pitt’s attorneys.
“Judge Ouderkirk’s ethical violation, along with information about his recent professional relationships with Pitt’s attorney, may reasonably cast doubt on the judge’s ability to be impartial to an objective person who knows the facts. Disqualification is required.” “, Decided the court.
The decision means the custody battle for the couple’s five minor children, which is nearing its end, may only just begin.
The judge has already ruled the couple is divorced, but separated the custody issues.
Tim P. Whitby / Getty Images
Like many celebrity couples, Pitt and Jolie chose to hire their own judge to increase their privacy in the divorce process.
“The Court of Appeal’s judgment was based on a procedural issue. The facts haven’t changed. There is an extraordinary amount of factual evidence to enable the judge – and the many testified experts – to come to a clear conclusion on the content of the children’s welfare, “stated a statement by Pitt’s representative.” We will continue to do what is legally necessary based on the detailed knowledge of what is best for the children. “
Details of the custody decisions have not been made public.
Jolie and Pitt have six children: 19-year-old Maddox, 17-year-old Pax, 16-year-old Zahara, 15-year-old Shiloh, 12-year-old Vivienne, and 12-year-old Knox. Only the five minors are subject to custody decisions.
Ouderkirk declined to disqualify himself when Jolie told him to do so on a file in August. A lower court judge ruled that Jolie’s motion for disqualification came too late. Jolie’s lawyers then appealed.
Oral hearings on July 9 in the Court of Appeal focused on what ethical rules should apply to private judges, who, like Ouderkirk, are typically retired chief judges.
“If you want to play the role of a paid private judge, you have to stick to the rules and the rules are very clear, they require full transparency,” said Jolie’s attorney, Robert Olson. “Matters that should be disclosed have not been disclosed.”
Pitt attorney Theodore Boutrous said the attempt to disqualify was a delaying tactic used by Jolie to prevent Ouderkirk’s latest provisional custody decision, favorable to Pitt, from going into effect.
The court cited several cases, including the divorce of the Modern Family co-founder Steven Levitan, in which Ouderkirk either failed to disclose a business relationship with Pitt’s lawyers, or did not quickly or fully disclose it.
The panel asked if such a regulation should even be allowed in California, but their ruling applies only to Ouderkirk.
Jolie, 46, and Pitt, 57, were one of Hollywood’s most prominent couples for 12 years. Ouderkirk directed the couple’s 2014 wedding and was then hired to oversee their divorce when Jolie filed for dissolution of the marriage in 2016. They were declared divorced in April 2019 after their attorneys sought a ruling that allowed a married couple to be declared single while other questions remained, including finances and custody.
In May, Jolie and her lawyers criticized Ouderkirk for not allowing the couple’s children to testify in the trial.
The actress also said the judge had “failed to adequately consider” a section of California Courts Act that said it would be detrimental to the child’s best interests for a person with a history of domestic violence to be granted custody. Her file did not provide details of what she was referring to, but her lawyers filed a document under Siegel in March that allegedly provided additional information.
The judgment does not go into whether the children are allowed to testify in the case.
Comments are closed.