Angelina Jolie has won a victory in her legal battle with ex-husband Brad Pitt after a judge they hired was disqualified from their divorce case.
A California appeals court disqualified a private judge being used by the stars in their divorce case, with the 2nd District Court of Appeal agreeing with Angelina that Judge John W Ouderkirk did not sufficiently disclose business relationships with Pitt’s lawyers.
‘Judge Ouderkirk’s ethical breach, considered together with the information disclosed concerning his recent professional relationships with Pitt’s counsel, might cause an objective person, aware of all the facts, reasonably to entertain a doubt as to the judge’s ability to be impartial. Disqualification is required,’ the court ruled.
Judge Ouderkirk made a ruling in May that granted Pitt joint custody of their five children, Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 15 and 13-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox (their eldest, Maddox, is 19 and is not subject to the custody decision).
The decision means the custody fight over the former couple’s kids, which was nearing an end, could be starting over.
The judge had already ruled the pair divorced, but separated the child custody issues.
Like many celebrity couples, Brad and Angelina opted to hire their own judge to increase their privacy in the divorce proceedings.
Judge Ouderkirk declined to disqualify himself when Jolie asked him to in a filing in August. A lower court judge ruled that her request came too late. Jolie’s lawyers then appealed.
Angelina, 46, and Brad, 57, were among Hollywood’s most prominent couples for 12 years. They had been married for two years when Jolie filed for divorce in 2016.
They were declared divorced in April 2019 after their lawyers asked for a judgment that allowed a married couple to be declared single while other issues remained, including finances and child custody.
In May, Angelina and her lawyers criticised Judge Ouderkirk for not allowing the couple’s children to give evidence in the proceedings.
The Maleficent actress also said the judge ‘failed to adequately consider’ a section of the California courts code, which says it is detrimental to the best interest of the child if custody is awarded to a person with a history of domestic violence.
Her filing did not give details about what it was referring to, but her lawyers submitted a document under seal in March that purportedly offers additional information.
The new ruling does not address whether the children should be allowed to give evidence.
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