Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie fight over French chateau, custody
Pitt and Jolie’s messy custody dispute continues, with the Oscar-winning actress accusing the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood star of seeking special treatment in a filing this week. In a separate courtroom squabble, the actors are fighting over their $164 million French estate as Jolie allegedly tried to sell her stake in Chateau Miraval out from under Pitt.
Here’s the latest on all the Brangelina drama.
The custody dispute continues
Pitt’s attorneys want the California Supreme Court to overturn a decision dismissing the private judge overseeing the couple’s custody fight. Jolie’s legal team hit back in documents obtained by Yahoo Entertainment, stating, “This sort of gamesmanship, a last-ditch effort by a celebrity litigant seeking special treatment, is not what this Court’s limited review resources are for.”
Jolie and Pitt have been fighting over custody of five of their six kids: Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 15, and 13-year-old twins, Vivienne and Knox. (Maddox, 20, is not a minor.) After the actor was awarded more time in a victory earlier this year, Jolie successfully got the private judge, Judge Ouderkirk, tossed from the case. Now, Pitt’s legal team has issues with the temporary judge appointed.
“We are seeking review in the California Supreme Court because the temporary judge, who had been appointed and repeatedly renewed by both sides, was improperly disqualified after providing a detailed, fact-based custodial decision, following a lengthy legal process with multiple witnesses and experts,” attorney Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., partner at Gibson Dunn, tells Yahoo Entertainment in a statement.
“The lower court’s ruling will reward parties who are losing child custody cases, and condone their gamesmanship, by allowing them to wait and see about the likely direction of the case before seeking the disqualification of the judge. Condoning the use of this type of strategic ‘lie in wait’ disqualification challenge will cause irreparable harm to both the children and families involved in this case, and other families in other cases, by unnecessarily prolonging the resolution of these disputes in an already overburdened court system. Allowing this kind of crafty litigation strategy will deprive parents of irreplaceable time with their children as judges are disqualified for minor reasons in the midst of their cases,” he continues.
“Nothing in the opposition brief calls into question the urgent need for California Supreme Court review, nor does the opposition address nor refute the important fact that the lower court’s ruling is bad for children and bad for California’s overburdened judicial system,” the statement concludes.
So, what happens next?
Celebrity divorce attorney Christopher Melcher, who counts Kanye West among his clients, explains to Yahoo what the latest filing means — and how he would advise the superstars.
“In her brief to the California Supreme Court, Angelina’s counsel claims Brad is twisting the facts and is ‘a celebrity litigant seeking special treatment…’ There is no evidence of that,” says Melcher, founding partner of Walzer Melcher family law. “Brad wanted Judge Ouderkirk to rule on his request for more time with the couple’s children, which Angelina opposed. When Judge Ouderkirk ruled against her, Angelina had the judge removed. That was proper according to the court of appeal, but it delays resolution of the dispute between the parties that has lasted five years. The custody decisions will have to be tried again with a new judge, unless Brad can convince the California Supreme Court to keep Judge Ouderkirk in place.”
Melcher has seen his fair share of high-profile divorces and believes “this level of fighting cannot be good for the children.”
“Whatever benefits could be obtained from a prolonged battle over custody must be balanced against the harm caused to the children by that fight. I cannot imagine how this is worth it,” he adds.
Kids aren’t the only thing Brangelina’s at odds over…
New court documents detail the couple’s feud over Chateau Miraval, the award-winning vineyard where Pitt and Jolie said “I do” in 2014.
The French estate is owned and controlled by Quimicum, of which both Pitt and Jolie have ownership in. When originally purchasing shares in Quimicum in 2008, the ownership was split 60-40, with Pitt’s company Mondo Bongo being a majority shareholder. In 2013, he agreed to transfer 10 percent of the shares to Jolie’s LLC, Nouvel, to make it an even split.
The documents claim that Nouvel has not been acting in the “best interest” of Quimicum. Jolie is accused of trying to sell her stake for a profit without giving Pitt the option to buy her out — and she’s supposedly required to give first refusal right to Mondo Bongo.
A source close to litigation tells Yahoo that Pitt and his business partners are the ones who put time and money into Chateau Miraval’s success, and that Jolie is trying to profit off of their hard work.
“It’s another example of this person trying to circumvent the rules and avoid their obligations,” the insider adds.
Legal action has been filed in Luxembourg to annul the transfer and bring their respective ownerships of Quimicum back to 60-40. Pitt’s team argues the 2013 transfer should be considered void under Luxembourg law as it was done for a symbolic price of EUR 1, which did not reflect the fair value of the shares.