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Brad Pitt has been granted joint custody of the children he shares with Angelina Jolie, Yahoo Entertainment can confirm. The tentative ruling comes after a nearly five-year, oftentimes contentious legal battle between the actors — and it's not over yet.
Judge John Ouderkirk, the private judge hired by Pitt, 57, and Jolie, 46, to oversee the case, made the decision after months of extensive testimony from people who spent time with the kids, including therapists and child services professionals, Yahoo has learned. However, the judge never heard from any of the children themselves — something Jolie is calling out in her own court filing.
"[Brad] has always been seeking the opportunity to have more time with his children and prioritized their wellbeing," a source close to the situation tells Yahoo. "The judge ruled in his favor and significantly modified the customary order to significantly increase his time with the kids."
The decision impacts five of Jolie and Pitt's six kids: Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 14, and 12-year-old twins, Vivienne and Knox. Their oldest, Maddox, is 19 so he's not subject to the decision.
A source close to Jolie tells People "joint custody is not the issue that Angelina objects to, there were other issues of concern, but the court proceedings are closed and sealed."
Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt in 2016 after an altercation occurred when the family was traveling on a private plane from France to California. Pitt was accused of being abusive toward Maddox, then 15. The FBI released a statement two months later saying it reviewed the circumstances of allegations and would not pursue further investigation. Pitt was also cleared by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services for the incident.
On Monday, Jolie filed a complaint to California's Second District Court of Appeal over Ouderkirk's decision. She criticized the judge — whom she unsuccessfully tried to get tossed from the case last year — for refusing to let the teenage children testify.
"Judge Ouderkirk denied Ms. Jolie a fair trial, improperly excluding her evidence relevant to the children’s health, safety, and welfare, evidence critical to making her case," according to the filing obtained by the Associated Press.
The Eternals actress claimed 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. The filing did not give details about what that refers to, per the AP, as many documents are sealed.
Jolie's filing alleges the judge "refused to hear the minor teenagers' input as to their experiences, needs, or wishes as to their custody fate," citing a California code that says a child 14 or over should be allowed to testify if they so choose.
In Pitt's response, he notes the judge found Jolie's testimony "lacked credibility in many important areas, and the existing custody order between the parties must be modified, per Mr. Pitt's request, in the best interests of the children."
Jolie and Pitt's divorce has yet to be finalized, but they were legally declared single in 2019.
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