Angelina Jolie has won her legal battle with Brad Pitt after a judge they hired did not approve of their divorce
The actors have been locked up in court fighting to keep their children since Angelina Jolie filed for divorce in 2016.
An independent judge, John Ouderkirk, ruled in favor of Pitt in May this year.
But on Friday, a California court upheld Angelina Jolie’s request to remove a judge from the case.
In its decision, the appellate court said Judge Ouderkirk did not disclose his business relationship with Brad Pitt’s lawyers.
This was a “violation of the law” which could cast doubt on the “judge’s impartiality”, the court said.
The ruling means that the legal battle against the couple’s five youngest children is likely to start again before a new judge.
Independent judges are often hired in the US to resolve disputes between celebrities who are divorcing for privacy reasons.
A spokesman for Pitt said the decision was based on a technical issue.
The “factual evidence” that led Judge Ouderkirk to issue a final ruling in May has not changed, the spokesman said.
Jolie’s representatives are yet to comment on Friday’s decision. But after May’s decision to remain in custody, a source told AFP that Jolie believed he and the children had been “denied a fair trial”.
Angelina Jolie criticized Judge Ouderkirk’s decision not to allow their children to testify during the trial.
The dispute over child custody concerns five of the youngest children; Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, twins 15 and 13 years old Vivienne and Knox.
The oldest, 19-year-old Maddox, has not received a reservation decision.
The settlement agreement with Angelina Jolie and Pitt announced in 2018 looks set to collapse.
Known popularly known as “Brangelina” by fans, Hollywood starred in the 2004 action film Mr. and Mrs. Smith. They had been together for ten years before getting married in 2014.
But the couple split up in September 2016 after two years of marriage, with Jolie citing “irreconcilable differences”.
Pitt was investigated for child abuse that may have occurred shortly before Angelina Jolie filed for divorce but later dismissed the allegations. The two were officially unmarried in 2019.
The wedding was Angelina Jolie’s third, after actors Billy Bob Thornton and Jonny Lee Miller, and Pitt had previously been married to star Jennifer Aniston.