Los Angeles. A California court on Friday recalled a private judge appointed by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in their divorce case. The Court of Appeals approved Jolie’s request that Judge John W. Ouderkirk not sufficiently disclose his business relationships with Pitt’s lawyers.
There were sufficient reasons to doubt the impartiality of the judge, the court said. “A rejection (by the judge) is required.” The decision means that the custody dispute over the five minor children of the Hollywood couple, which seemed almost settled, could drag on. The two are already divorced, but the judge wanted to negotiate the custody issues separately.
Like many celebrity couples, Pitt and Jolie decided to hire their own judge to ensure their privacy in the divorce process. Pitt’s lawyers said after the court’s decision that it was only a procedural issue, the facts had not changed. The judge and many experts had come to a clear conclusion, which was in the best interest of the children. Details of the custody decisions were not publicly disclosed.
Officially divorced since April 2019
Ouderkirk declined to declare himself biased when Jolie asked him to do so in a submission last August. The lower court judge ruled that Jolie’s request for rejection had come too late. Jolie’s lawyers then appealed.
46-year-old Jolie and 57-year-old Pitt were one of the most famous Hollywood couples for twelve years. Two years after the marriage, Jolie filed for divorce in 2016, which was officially finalized in April 2019. Since then, the ex-spouses have been fighting over custody of children.