Experts question whether it’s in the best interests of Pitt and Jolie’s children, aged 13 to 17, to continue a tumultuous custody battle throughout their adolescence.
A “shocking” California appeal court verdict on Friday virtually derailed Brad Pitt‘s recent court victory awarding him joint custody of five of his teenage children and fueling his years-long custody battle with ex-wife Angelina Jolie.
Pitt has promised to appeal the Second District Court of Appeal’s decision, while the renowned ex-spouses are expected to go back to court to reclaim custody of their children, ages 13 to 17. The verdict also appears to allow Jolie’s lawyers to raise concerns about whether they will be able to call the children to testify in a custody trial or present evidence concerning Pitt’s alleged history of domestic abuse.
But the thought of prolonging an already acrimonious and drawn-out divorce battle raises the question: Is it truly in the best interests of the kids, especially since they are already teens, with Pax, 17, about to turn 18?
Peter Walzer, a family law attorney in Los Angeles, doubts that the children’s best interests are being served right now. He believes Jolie believed she was doing the right thing when she filed an appeal against a private judge’s preliminary order granting Pitt joint custody earlier this year.
The actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian may even believe she won a just cause when the California Second District Court of Appeal determined that the judge should have recused himself from the case because he failed to reveal his financial ties to Pitt’s lawyers.
But, according to Walzer and other family law experts, even though the children are old enough to theoretically have a great lot of influence in who they live with and how they spend their time, she and Pitt will continue to fight in court over custody.
Pitt and Jolie may now spend the rest of their children’s adolescent years in court, according to Walzer, who termed the appeal court’s decision “shocking” because the court rarely intervenes to reverse judges’ rulings. Walzer, who has had famous clients in the past, said the youngest children, 13-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne, may have no choice but to endure “five more years of custody disputes.”
During the flight, Pitt was accused of abusing their oldest child, Maddox, who was 15 at the time. Jolie’s lawyer stated at the time that she was seeking a divorce “for the family’s health.” Child welfare officials and the FBI conducted investigations, but no charges were filed against the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” star. Pitt stated in interviews that his anger and alcohol misuse played a role in his divorce. He also stated that he had entered treatment to address his difficulties and become a better father.
Maddox has now been deemed a legal adult and is not subject to the custody ruling because he is 19 years old. Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 14, and the 13-year-old twins are Pitt and Jolie’s other children.
Pitt’s alleged history of domestic abuse was not mentioned in the appeals court’s oral arguments earlier this month. The lawyer’s arguments were solely focused on Jolie’s request that Ouderkirk is dismissed from the lawsuit.
Jolie and Pitt opted to have their divorce case handled by a private judge after filing for divorce, which is a frequent procedure among wealthy and famous couples who prefer to keep their divorce processes out of the public eye.