Inside the latest fight in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's nearly 4-year divorce
In court documents obtained by PEOPLE, the actress, 45, filed a request on Aug. 7 asking for the removal of Judge John W. Ouderkirk from her divorce case from Pitt, 56. Ouderkirk was hired by Pitt and Jolie in 2017 to oversee their divorce privately — and also married the former couple in 2014.
The actress alleges Ouderkirk "failed to make timely mandatory disclosures of ongoing business and professional relationships between himself” and Pitt’s attorneys. But Pitt's legal team shot back in a filing on Thursday, slamming the move as "a thinly-veiled attempt by Jolie to delay the adjudication of long-pending custody issues in this case."
Jolie's filing claims that Ouderkirk didn't disclose details of other divorce cases he was working on involving Pitt's lawyers, leaving him "biased."
The actress said she “was never afforded the opportunity to even raise a concern or to object to the ever-increasing business relationships between Judge Ouderkirk and [Pitt’s] counsel — relationships that were providing a steady stream of income to Judge Ouderkirk and the potential for future work.”
“These are precisely the type of repeat customer circumstances that create doubts about a privately-compensated private judge’s ability to remain impartial.”
Ouderkirk did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment. He has 10 days to respond to Jolie's filing.
In his own filing in response to Jolie's claims, Pitt accused her of trying to stall the case ahead of a child custody trial set for October.
Calling Jolie's filing a "Hail Mary," Pitt argued in court documents that while Ouderkirk had "accepted additional new engagements involving opposing counsel" the matter had been "fully disclosed to Jolie" and that she "has never objected to [Ouderkirk's] continued involvement in this proceeding until now."
Pitt pointed out Ouderkirk had also disclosed prior work with his and Jolie's respective lawyers, even referencing three times in which the actress and her legal team asked to extend Ouderkirk's appointment to their case.
"Unfortunately, the individuals hurt most by Jolie's transparently tactical gambit are the parties' own children, who continue to be deprived of a final resolution to these custody issues," the documents read.
After the filings, the two sides continued to clash over the dispute.
"It is unfortunate that Mr. Pitt's team has sought to intervene ahead of Judge Ouderkirk's response. One can only conclude that this is an attempt to obstruct or influence Judge Ouderkirk's answer. Any delay in these proceedings is due to their zealous attempt to create an unrecognized special exception for their client's benefit," Jolie's lawyer Samantha Bley DeJean said in a statement to PEOPLE.
Yet a source close to Pitt tells PEOPLE, “This is the Judge who married them, someone who her team knew well and who her team actually introduced to the couple. Her lawyers have also worked with him, so the only excuse for their filing is that her team knew they were likely to lose and they needed to stall by changing the referee in the fourth quarter.”
The judge presided over Pitt and Jolie's 2014 nuptials at their family's French estate, Château Miraval. He was one of only 20 attendees at the ultra-intimate affair.
Jolie filed for divorce in 2016 and she and Pitt were legally declared single last year as the finalization of their divorce continues.
Pitt and Jolie have six children together: sons Maddox, 18, Pax, 16, and Knox, 12, and daughters Zahara, 15, Shiloh, 14, and Vivienne, 12.
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