Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt - still as a couple - in 2009
© Michael Hanschke / Reuters / REUTERS
In the custody battle between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, the actress won a stage.
An appeal report in California followed Jolie's request to remove the responsible judge, John Ouderkirk, as US media reported on Friday.
Ouderkirk had violated his "ethical obligations," the "People" magazine quoted from the court decision.
The former Hollywood dream couple has been officially divorced since 2019, but is arguing over custody of the five underage biological and adopted children. Jolie and Pitt had called in the private judge Ouderkirk themselves. He upset Jolie when he decided in May to extend her ex-husband's custody rights. She appealed against this decision and criticized that the judge was possibly partial. The appellate court now agreed. Ouderkirk did not disclose earlier business connections with Pitt's lawyers, so doubts about his neutrality are justified.
However, what this decision means for the continuation of the custody dispute is unclear. A Pitt spokesman told People that this was just a procedural issue. The facts about what would be best for the children have not changed. Trial observers assume that the custody dispute will drag on for even longer. Jolie and Pitt could appoint a new private judge to arbitrate or go to public family court.
Pitt, 57, and Jolie, 46, got married in 2014 after a long relationship.
Two years later, Jolie filed for divorce.
She demanded sole custody of the six children, who are now between 12 and 19 years old.
Since then, negotiations have been going on in court about the division of custody and finances.
At 19, the eldest son, Maddox, is no longer part of the litigation.
fla / ap / dpa