At first glance, there was nothing unusual about Angelina Jolie bringing her five children to the Los Angeles premiere of her latest movie Monday night. Stars often like to show off their kids at their premieres, especially if the movie is a family-friendly feature like “Eternals,” the latest superhero flick from Marvel Comics.
But if you’re Brad Pitt or his publicist, attorneys or fans, you’d be hard pressed to avoid the subtext in the photos that emerged of Jolie and the couple’s children lined up together on the red carpet.
The widely disseminated photos show Jolie, 46, and the children, dressed in color-coordinated earth-tone formal wear. They’re putting on a united family front, weeks after she and Pitt, 57, hit each other with new legal challenges and bitter allegations in their years-long custody fight. Just a month ago, Jolie suggested in an interview with The Guardian that she and her children suffered trauma at the hands of Pitt and indicated that she feared for their safety during their marriage, which ended in 2016.
For those sympathetic to Jolie, it was particularly powerful to see the couple’s oldest son, Maddox, 20, standing proudly with his mom at the premiere. Maddox has reportedly been estranged from Pitt since the son and father got into a confrontation on a private plane in September 2016 — the upsetting event that is said to have forced Jolie to file for divorce days later.
Also present at the premiere were 15-year-old Shiloh, 13-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox and 16-year-old Zahara. Many made note of the fact that Zahara wore the same sparkling Elie Saab gown that Jolie wore to the Academy Awards in 2014 — the same year that Jolie and Pitt married after already being together eight years and starting a family. Not present at the premiere was 17-year-old Pax.
Certainly, the arrival of Jolie’s latest movie in theaters is an occasion for her to celebrate and to want her family around her. But Jolie also is a director and a veteran celebrity who knows the power of images when she wants to make a public statement, whether it’s about her film career, her humanitarian work or her personal life.
The “Eternals” premiere seemed to offer Jolie, sporting a strapless gown and gold chin cuff, a prime opportunity to make a statement about her family as the custody case rages on. Notably, it was widely reported this summer that three of her children were eager to testify against Pitt in the custody trial, which ended last spring with a private family law judge tentatively granting Pitt joint custody. Pitt previously only had visitation rights, according to reports.
In May, Jolie contested the 50/50 custody ruling by Judge John Ouderkirk, in part because the judge wouldn’t let the children testify or let her present new evidence of domestic violence, allegedly committed by Pitt during the marriage. The 2nd District Court of Appeal decided in July that Ouderkirk should be dismissed from the case, because he failed to disclose prior business ties to Pitt’s attorneys.
So Pitt is now challenging the appellate court ruling and seeking a review by the state Supreme Court, with both Pitt and Jolie accusing each other of unnecessarily prolonging the custody fight.
In his petition to the California Supreme Court, Pitt’s attorneys argued that Ouderkirk’s failure to disclose the business ties was nothing more than “a minor and inadvertent administrative error.” Ouderkirk is a private judge who performed the couple’s 2014 wedding at their French estate. He had been hired by both sides to oversee the custody issues and financial settlement related to their divorce.
In an interview last month with Page Six, Pitt’s attorney, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., said Jolie was dragging out the case, simply because a qualified judge she had long approved of wouldn’t rule in her favor.
Boutrous also said the appellate court’s ruling “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.”
But Jolie’s team hit back, saying the Supreme Court should reject Pitt’s effort to cast aside the ruling by the appellate court. Her lawyers said Pitt was trying to use his movie-star status to get “special treatment” in the courts.
“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’s lawyers said. “There is nothing to see or review here. There is no issue meeting this Court’s rigorous standards for, or worthy of, review.”
Family law experts have generally questioned whether Jolie and Pitt’s protracted divorce fight is in the best interests of their children. Experts interviewed by this news organization note that the children are all now teenagers who are expected to have greater control than young children would over which parent they live with and how they spend their time, whether it’s with peers or in activities.
Experts also said it’s generally “traumatic” for children of all ages to be called into court and asked to testify. They said Ouderkirk likely based his custody ruling on testimony from therapists who interviewed the children and others involved in their day-to-day lives.
But in a Guardian interview, Jolie responded affirmatively to a reporter’s question about whether she feared for the safety of her children while married to Pitt.
“Yes, for my family. My whole family,” Jolie said.
Jolie, who also is a UN special envoy for refugee rights, put her custody fight in broader, humanitarian terms, suggesting to The Guardian that she had become concerned that her children’s rights were not being honored when they were not allowed to testify.
For his part, Pitt has denied being physically abusive to his children, though he admitted in interviews that he had alcohol and anger management problems that contributed to his divorce. He said he addressed these issues in recovery.
The FBI and child welfare officials cleared Pitt of wrongdoing over the well-publicized confrontation with Maddox on the private plane, which was returning to Los Angeles from Europe. Us Weekly reported at the time that a drunk Pitt began arguing with Jolie, and Maddox got into the middle of the fight to try and calm his father down.
Source : https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2021/10/19/angelina-jolie-and-kids-united-amid-brad-pitt-custody-fight-at-eternals-premiere/1149