Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's custody battle 'could be starting over' after judge is disqualified

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
(Image credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Angelina Jolie has scored a significant victory in her custody battle with Brad Pitt.

An appeals court on Friday ruled that the private judge in Jolie and Pitt's custody case must be disqualified for violating "his ethical obligations," People reports.

Judge John Ouderkirk in May granted Pitt joint custody of his children with Jolie following a nearly five-year dispute in court. They have six children together, and five are underage. But on Friday, the 2nd District Court of Appeal said that Ouderkirk failed to adequately disclose business relationships with attorneys for Pitt, The Associated Press reports. The judge had been hired for other cases that involved Pitt's lawyer, the AP previously reported.

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"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," the court said. "Disqualification is required."

This means the previous ruling is void, People notes, and after years in court already, their battle "could be starting over," the AP writes.

Jolie had previously fought to disqualify the judge from the case, arguing he "failed to disclose the cases that demonstrated the current, ongoing, repeat-customer relationship between the judge and Respondent's counsel," though her request was denied. She had also been critical of the judge for reportedly not allowing her kids to testify in the case, accussing Ouderkirk of denying her a "fair trial" by "improperly excluding her evidence relevant to the children's health, safety, and welfare, evidence critical to making her case."

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