Angelina Jolie Challenges Custody Ruling, Accuses Judge John Ouderkirk of Being Biased

Angelina Jolie Challenges Custody Ruling, Accuses Judge John Ouderkirk of Being Biased
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Michael Kovac

In a recent court filing, Hollywood actress and social activist Angelina Jolie has taken aim at California judge John Ouderkirk, who is presiding over the custody arrangements for Jolie and Brad Pitt's six children. Jolie, who sought a divorce in 2016 citing the health of the family, accuses the judge of denying her a fair trial by refusing to allow their children to testify.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Michael Loccisano
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Michael Loccisano

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The court documents filed on Monday, October 16 assert that Judge Ouderkirk declined to consider evidence crucial to the children's safety and wellbeing before issuing a tentative ruling. Although the documents did not specify the nature of this evidence, Jolie claims it is vital to her case per the New York Post. She further argues that the judge has failed to adequately consider a section of the California courts code related to domestic violence, without providing details on the specific incident.

Image Source: GettyImages/Jonathan Leibson
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Jonathan Leibson


Jolie's attempt to disqualify Judge Ouderkirk stems from allegations of an improper business relationship between the judge and one of Pitt's attorneys. The private judge was initially chosen by the estranged couple to maintain privacy in their legal proceedings. One notable point in Jolie's filing is the judge's alleged refusal to hear the input of the couple's three teenage children—Pax, Zahara, and Shiloh—regarding their experiences, needs, and wishes in the custody decision. Jolie cites a California code that suggests a child aged 14 or over should be allowed to testify if they wish.


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Pitt's attorneys responded to Jolie's claims, stating that Judge Ouderkirk conducted a thorough and fair proceeding over the past six months, considering expert opinions and percipient witnesses. They argue that the judge found Jolie's testimony lacked credibility in critical areas and that modifications to the existing custody order are necessary for the children's best interests. The current custody arrangement remains undisclosed as the court seals most files. At the start of the divorce process, Jolie sought sole custody, while Pitt sought joint custody.

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A post shared by Angelina Jolie (@angelinajolie)


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Despite the legal battles, both parties have refrained from commenting on the recent filings. Jolie's representatives, however, suggest that her family struggles have motivated her to actively engage in policy changes related to custody issues. Peter Harvey, an attorney working with Jolie on policy matters, revealed that she has been working privately for over four years to bring about improvements to the system.



The ongoing legal drama between Jolie, 45, and Pitt, 57, continues to captivate public interest, marking a shift from their 12-year prominence as one of Hollywood's power couples. Their divorce was finalized in April 2019, though financial matters and child custody have remained contentious issues. If the tentative custody decision is made final by Judge Ouderkirk, Jolie has declared her intention to appeal, setting the stage for a protracted legal battle over the wellbeing of their children.

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