Angelina Jolie used to be known as a love ’em and leave ’em type. But she can’t seem to let Brad Pitt go.
The two were back at each other’s throats in court this month — with Jolie, who filed for divorce in 2016, again coming off like Maleficent for seemingly dragging things out. People who know both actors are puzzled as to her motives.
“The longer she does this, the more damage she does to the kids,” one acquaintance told The Post. “This is a game she’s playing. She still has the kids for more of the time than he does and she’s trying to maintain that as long as possible.”
Sources familiar with the family say that, while maintaining control of the children is paramount to Jolie, she has love-hate feelings for Pitt.
“On some level she doesn’t want this [the divorce] to end,” said one source. “She’s trying to hold on.”
Insiders told The Post that Jolie’s maneuvering has only served to burnish Pitt’s “good guy” image — and help keep the focus off some skeletons in his own closet.
Jolie, 45, lobbed her latest grenade just when the couple’s War of the Roses seemed to be winding down. Pitt, 56, had recently been seen riding his motorcycle to visit their children at the actress’ Los Angeles estate and the two were said to be getting along better.
Jolie asked that the private judge in their divorce be thrown off the case because he was too cozy with Pitt’s attorneys and doing other business with them. But insiders say there are very few private LA judges working for high-net-worth clients and it’s a no-brainer that Judge John W. Ouderkirk would have other clients repped by Pitt’s counsel.
Team Pitt hit back with court documents showing that Ouderkirk, who officiated the couple’s wedding in 2014, had disclosed those dealings and that Jolie was aware of them. Ouderkirk said he had no bias in the case and refused to step down. Now a court will decide whether to remove him.
“The judge excoriated her legal team’s hail-Mary attempt to delay the process again,” said an attorney close to the matter.”
Pitt’s lawyers said in court papers that Jolie’s move “reeks of bad faith and desperation.” They added that the couple’s six kids are “the individuals hurt most by Jolie’s transparently tactical gambit,” as “they continue to be deprived over a resolution to these custody issues.”
According to the Jolie camp, the actress, who is known for her passion — be it for work, philanthropy or, in the past, men (she is currently not dating) — is intently focused on one thing: her kids.
They add that, despite the way things may look to the public, “She’s the one who filed for divorce,” said one person close to Jolie. “There is no one more than her that wants it to be done.”
Jolie sources told The Post that the kids still require therapy after the private-jet flight in 2016, when Pitt was said to have lashed out at their son Maddox, reportedly prompting Jolie to file for divorce days later. A date for the custody trial was set for next month but may be postponed.
The kids range in age from 19-year-old Maddox, who, a source said, now has “no real relationship” with his father, to twins Vivienne and Knox, 12. Pax is 16, Zahara is 15 and Shiloh is 14.
“Brad does spend time with the kids but there are still limits and that’s the frustrating part,” a source with knowledge of the situation said. “In California, custody is [typically] 50-50 . . . But in reality, Brad doesn’t have 50 percent custody.”
When the pandemic struck, Maddox returned to Jolie’s $24 million mansion from his biotechnology studies at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, and will reportedly study online this fall. Pax attends Notre Dame HS in Sherman Oaks, Calif,. The school this fall will reportedly be a mix of online and in-person coursework. Some of the other kids are homeschooled.
The brood remained in lockdown with Angelina while Pitt flew in his parents, brother, sister and their families to his Santa Barbara estate two weeks ago to celebrate mom Jane’s 80th birthday.
Meanwhile, sources say that Jolie is hurting her reputation by making her ex look like a victim when Pitt is no angel.
“I’m not saying she’s perfect, or the sanest person around,” said a source who worked with Pitt and Jolie when they were together. “But he wore the pants in that relationship . . . He’s much tougher than he lets on. That boyish, good guy image is just an image.”
In some ways, by dragging things out and sticking it to her ex, Jolie is repeating what people in Pitt’s past say he has done to them.
Lighting designer Odile Soudant is still embroiled in lawsuits with Pitt more than 10 years after he asked her to create a multimillion-dollar design at Chateau Miraval, the French chateau he and Jolie bought. Soudant told The Post she worked for four years before Pitt pulled the plug without explanation, bankrupting her by not paying her.
Pitt’s side claims he stopped payment because contractors carrying out the work inflated prices, but a French court said Soudant was not to blame. She was awarded some $750,000 in damages in 2017 but the fight is not over. Soudant said Pitt hired away someone from her team to complete the job — and Pitt has since claimed via his lawyer that the design ideas were his own. Soudant has filed a second suit in France against Pitt, asking that she be given official artistic credit. The case is ongoing.
“He took my soul, he took my heart,” Soudant told The Post. “I cry for myself and I cry for the people of New Orleans.”
Homeowners in New Orleans — where Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation built more than 120 low-cost homes for residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina, only to see some collapse or fill with mold — filed a class-action suit against MIR in 2018.
On some level, Angelina doesn’t want [the divorce from Brad Pitt] to end. She’s trying to hold on.
They hope a hearing scheduled for Sept. 3 will force Pitt to be accountable.
“It’s all defend, deny and delay,” Ron Austin, a lawyer for homeowners, told The Post. “We’re hoping next month’s hearing will compel Brad Pitt and Make It Right to answer questions that they’ve been ducking and dragging out so far.”
The Rev. Charles Duplessis, who has helped MIR homeowners, told The Post that the media has abandoned the Make It Right disaster after “a couple of reporters came here, wrote about it like it was just a one-shot thing and forgot about us.
“People here are still hurting and I want justice for them. Some of them had to leave the houses but they’re still expected to pay mortgages and nobody cares,” said Duplessis, whose sister-in-law had to vacate her MIR home due to mold. “Brad Pitt . . . shouldn’t abandon these people. He truly should make it right.”
That also should be a goal of both Pitt and Jolie when it comes to finally resolving their long legal war.
“Both parents want to spend as much time as possible with the kids but under the current arrangement it seems significantly weighted in favor of their spending time with her,” a Pitt source told The Post. “Hopefully it will be more equitable in the future.”
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