The power couple once known as Brangelina is set for one of the most powerful custody battles Hollywood has ever seen – with rumours swirling the court costs could run into seven digits.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie announced their divorce four years ago, citing “irreconcilable differences”. But the fight for their six children is just beginning.
The couple have three adopted children – Pax, 16, and Zahara, 15, plus 19-year-old Maddox, who has been deemed old enough to choose his living situation.
Then there’s biological children Shiloh, 14, and 12-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne.
Neither parent is giving up easily.
Pitt, 56, reportedly has a list of some 21 witnesses he’s calling upon, to help build his case for 50-50 custody.
Jolie is calling on seven, including herself and Pitt.
A source told The Sun the early word is a resolution is unlikely to be reached before Christmas, prolonging the “darkest of clouds” that has been hanging over the family for years.
“Brad and Angelina have been at a total impasse for longer than anyone can remember,” the source said.
“They’ve hired the best attorneys money can buy and any previous hope of coming to a civilised compromise outside of court has well and truly dissolved now.
“Brad and Angelina spent many weeks, if not months, working with their legal teams to draw up lists of witnesses who’d help strengthen their respective arguments.”
From a million-dollar ring to multimillion-dollar divorce
Despite their controversial beginnings on the set of Mr and Mrs Smith in 2004, it looked like no one or nothing could come between the couple.
Doing things their own way, Jolie was finally spotted with a $US1 million engagement ring in 2012, and the couple married officially in 2014.
The final sums of their divorce remain the matter of rumour and speculation, but you can bet it would have cost each team more than $1 million – their combined net worth is some $US400 million.
Their relationship came to a head in 2016, amid swirling allegations that Pitt and Pax, then 12, got into a physical altercation during a flight on a private plane.
There was an investigation, and no charges ever resulted from the alleged incident, but it appeared to be the tipping point for the couple’s relationship.
It’s a history like this, coupled with a preference towards keeping children with their mothers, that’s resulted in Pitt’s extensive list of witnesses, sources say.
Both sides are calling domestic violence expert Alyce LaViolette as a witness.
“In Brad’s case the list is longer because he feels he has to cite as many anecdotes as possible from credible characters who can vouch for his parenting skills, as well as the kids’ needs,” the source said.
“And with Angelina currently having the bulk of time with the children, there’s a view that he’s got to convince the judge to change the current situation.
“He wants a straight 50 per cent of custody, with visitation dates and overnight stays set in stone.”
The next date for the custody hearing is set for December 21.
The sticking points
Jolie has been described as the “ultimate mama bear” who will “walk through fire to protect them from anyone – even their own father” – and it’s this determination that sources say is creating an impasse in the negotiations.
Pitt’s bid to gun for 50-50 custody puts a spanner in Jolie’s rumoured plan to move the mob out of Los Angeles – perhaps even overseas.
“[Angelina] will only agree to talk about an agreement if the home base for the children isn’t Los Angeles,” an insider told The Sun.
“The younger kids are in school in Los Angeles, which Angelina has always been opposed to.”
Meanwhile, Pitt is balancing one very public divorce spat with kindling a new relationship.
He’s been apparently dating German model Nicole Poturalski, 27, for about a year now.
She doesn’t come to the table without her own eyebrow-raising history: She’s still married to her 68-year-old husband.
Despite some difficulties to negotiate, all reports are that she and Pitt are extremely happy together – they were recently seen holidaying in the south of France.