After nearly six years of a nasty custody battle, Brad Pitt is reportedly staring down a grim possibility that he’ll never have much of a relationship with his six children with Angelina Jolie.
Pitt, 58, has been “lamenting to pals” that his ex-wife, 46, will never agree to joint custody and basically wants “to run out the clock until the kids are 18,” a source has told Us Weekly.
More upsetting, the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” star is under the impression that Jolie hopes the children “will want nothing to do with” him once they are of age, the source said.
In fact, two of the children — sons Maddox, 20, and Pax, 18 — already are adults. When it comes to them, the custody fight has become moot. Daughter Zahara, 17, isn’t far behind. That leaves daughter Shiloh, 15, and twins Vivienne and Knox, 13, who would become the focus of their parents’ court fight.
Prominent divorce attorneys have previously told this news organization that it’s questionable to continue a custody fight once the children become teenagers.
That’s because it’s difficult for a court to enforce the usual custody issues of where children will live and how much time they will spend with either parent once children should be old enough to make those decisions themselves.
“As children get into their teenage years, there is only so much a court can do to force teenagers to spend time with either parent,” Daniel Nottes, a New York-based family law attorney, told this news organization in 2021.
“Sometimes they don’t want to see mom or dad,” Nottes continued. “They want to go to their boyfriend or girlfriend’s house. They want to do sports or be with their friends. The courts try to do what’s best for the children but they understand once they get to 15, 16, 17, there’s not much courts can do at that point.”
Pitt’s concerns appear to go beyond his children’s living arrangements. They instead seem focus on fears of his children being alienated from him, even if he and Jolie occupy nearby estates in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.
The epic legal battle between Hollywood’s once-most prominent couple goes back to September 2016 when Jolie filed for divorce and immediately accused Pitt of domestic violence. One known allegation from Jolie centered around a confrontation between Pitt and Maddox that took place on a private plane as the family was flying back from Europe.
Pitt later came clean in interviews about how he sought help to deal with problems with drinking and managing his anger. He always denied being physically abusive to his children, while the FBI and child welfare officials cleared Pitt of wrongdoing over his confrontation with Maddox.
It also was reported in 2018 and 2019 that the actor was happy to have visits with his children supervised by a court-appointed monitor. Family law experts said that PItt’s consent to supervised visits allowed him to show he was making an effort to be a good father and practice “appropriate parenting.” In June 2019, it also was reported that Pitt and Jolie were working toward an “amicable” co-parenting relationship.
At some point that supposed rapprochement fell apart and Jolie reportedly objected to Pitt having 50/50 custody. In an interview last September with The Guardian, the United Nations humanitarian alleged that she and her children had suffered lasting trauma at the hands of Pitt during her decade-long relationship and two year marriage to him.
While Jolie said she couldn’t get specific about the trauma because of the legal issues, she told The Guardian that she had come to fear for the safety of her children. She said, “Yes, for my family. My whole family.”
Jolie also said that Maddox and at least two of the other children were willing to testify in court about what the children experienced from Pitt’s parenting and during their parents’ marriage. Maddox has reportedly been estranged from Pitt since their 2016 confrontation.
The custody battle reached the higher courts last year, including the California Supreme Court. Pitt asked the Supreme Court for a review after an an appellate court in July 2021 ruled that John Ouderkirk, the private judge who had been handling the couple’s divorce and custody settlement, should be disqualified because of perceived bias in favor of Pitt.
That appellate court’s ruling effectively voided Ouderkirk’s previous ruling that granted Pitt 50/50 custody with the children who were still minors. Ouderkirk had also run afoul of Jolie because he wouldn’t let her children testify or admit evidence about domestic violence.
The California Supreme Court denied Pitt’s motion in October 2021. Around the same time, Jolie and five of their children showed a united front at the Los Angeles premiere of her latest movie, “The Eternals.” Jolie and the children, in color-coordinated earth-tone formal wear, lined up on a red carpet, sending a message that wouldn’t be lost on Pitt or his publicist and attorneys. In terms of messaging, it was particularly powerful to see Maddox there, standing proudly with his mother.
It would appear that Pitt is right to be concerned that his relationship with his children has suffered either because of his own actions or because of Jolie has worked to alienate them from him.
Ahead of 2022, another source told Us Weekly that Pitt hoped to repair his damaged relationship with Jolie.
“Brad hopes that one day he and Angelina find a way to forgive each other and move forward, for the kids’ sakes if nothing else,” the insider noted. “He hates all the bad blood.”