The couple, who have been trading bitter, publicly available custody salvos in court since she filed for divorce Sept. 19, are now working with a private judge and will present a “united front” from here on out, they said in their first joint statement since the split.
“The parties and their counsel have signed agreements to preserve the privacy rights of their children and family by keeping all court documents confidential and engaging a private judge to make any necessary legal decisions and to facilitate the expeditious resolution of any remaining issues,” they said Monday night in a joint statement confirmed by the Los Angeles Times.
“The parents are committed to act as a united front to effectuate recovery and reunification,” the couple’s legalese-heavy statement continued.
Jolie’s filing came as “a complete shock” to Pitt, a source close to the couple told People in September. It was prompted, ultimately, by a spat between Pitt and their eldest son, Maddox, on a private plane inbound to L.A. from France.
Though an investigation into the incident was not confirmed by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, a source familiar with the inquiry said there was no finding of abuse by Pitt. The FBI closed its review of the situation in November, with no charges filed.
The Hollywood A-listers reached an informal, private temporary custody agreement at the end of September, but a court filing by Jolie weeks later made its details public. In early December, Pitt’s first request that their custody dealings be sealed was rejected by a judge. Jolie’s team labeled Pitt’s effort as “a thinly veiled attempt to shield himself, rather than the minor children, from public view.” Though the names of therapists making decisions about Pitt’s access to his kids had been revealed, a judge said the case didn’t yet meet the requirements to be sealed.
Pitt pressed the issue again a couple of weeks later, saying that Jolie had “no self-regulating mechanism” and was “determined to ignore even agreed upon standards relating to the children’s best interest.”
A hearing had been scheduled for January, CNN reported.
Right after Jolie filed for divorce, Stacy Phillips, a family law attorney with Blank Rome in Century City, said she found one aspect of the actress’ filing “a bit odd”: The fact that Jolie was asking for sole physical custody of the kids but joint legal custody, which includes the ability to make decisions about the children’s lives.
“If somebody’s not capable of having custodial time, then one would surmise that they’re not capable of making decisions,” she told The Times. But the fact that all six kids — three of them adopted and three of them born to the couple — were listed on the petition with Pitt and Jolie as mother and father is a good thing.
The pair of Oscar winners, whose separation date was Sept. 15, 2016, were legally married Aug. 14, 2014, and followed that up on Aug. 23 with a nondenominational ceremony held at their chateau in Provence, France, after a two-year engagement. They met while working on the movie “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” when Pitt was still married to Jennifer Aniston.