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In Neverending Divorce, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Must Now Shop for New Judge

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Here’s one thing that hasn’t changed in the last five or so years: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are still hashing out their divorce. And the case doesn’t seem to be speeding up anytime soon. On Friday, an appeals court ruled that the couple’s judge must be disqualified.

California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed with claims made by Jolie’s team that Judge John W. Orderkirk did not sufficiently disclose a business relationship with Pitt’s attorneys. As such, the battle for custody of the couple’s five children, “which was nearing an end” according to the Associated Press, “could just be getting started.”

“Judge Ouderkirk’s ethical breach, considered together with the information disclosed concerning his recent professional relationships with Pitt’s counsel, might cause an objective person, aware of all the facts, reasonably to entertain a doubt as to the judge’s ability to be impartial,” declared the court. “Disqualification is required,” they concluded.

Ouderkirk, a retired superior court judge, was privately hired by Pitt and Jolie, apparently a somewhat common occurrence among celebrity couples. (The primary motivation for hiring a pricey private judge is to keep as much of the proceedings under wraps as possible.)

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Jolie had asked Ouderkirk to disqualify himself last August. A lower court said her request came too late, but she appealed. 

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To give you a sense of how long this whole thing has been going on, when Jolie first filed for divorce from Pitt, the number one movie at the box office was Sully, and “Closer” by the Chainsmokers featuring Halsey was atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In other words, it was quite some time ago. (September 15, 2016, to be precise.) 

The couple elected to have a bifurcated judgment, meaning their marriage was declared officially over while they finalized further matters of their divorce. As such, they were officially declared single in April 2019, while other issues, notably the custody of their five children, worked their way through the system.

Friday’s decision comes two months after the court granted Pitt and Jolie 50-50 joint physical and legal custody. That ruling is now vacated. “We will continue to do what’s necessary legally based on the detailed findings of what’s best for the children,” a spokesman for Pitt said. 

In addition to child custody, the drawn-out divorce has slowed efforts by Jolie to sell a vineyard in France, according to the New York Post. In the meantime, she’s been hanging out with bees.

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