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Divorce Attorney Says Angelina Jolie Still Has 'An Uphill Battle' In Custody Case With Ex Brad Pitt After Private Judge Is Disqualified

Jul. 29 2021, Published 7:26 a.m. ET

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Angelina Jolie landed a win in her custody battle with Brad Pitt when a California appeals court disqualified the private judge — but the legal battle could reportedly still cost the former flames millions.

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Los Angeles divorce attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan — who is not involved in the case — weighed in on the matter to Us Weekly. The lawyer estimates that the estranged couple has likely already spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not in the millions" on litigation.

"And it could be more if they start over again," Kaplan told the outlet. "Nothing is more expensive than a hotly contested custody [dispute]. I’m sure both of these people can afford to [keep litigating], which is not the reason to do it, but that’s probably not going to be a major factor for either of them given their respective wealth."

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angelina jolie uphill battle case private judge disqualified brad pitt
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This comes as the court ruled that "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. Disqualification is required."

In August, the Maleficent actress, 46, claimed "the judge is compromised because of ongoing business and professional relationships he has with one of Pitt's lawyers" and said she would appeal a finalized decision made by Ouderkirk if he was not removed. Ouderkirk reportedly previously said that Jolie had "clearly failed" to prove bias on his part.

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"The case has been sent back to the Los Angeles Superior Court," a source previously told Us Weekly. "Judge Ouderkirk is no longer involved and Angelina is grateful to seek a fair decision regarding custody for the children."

The change could mean that the current custody arrangement may be overturned with the proceedings beginning again. In May, Pitt was reportedly granted joint custody of their children — but Kaplan added that the change does not equate to an instant win for Jolie.

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"She’s still got an uphill battle because now there is historical observation rather than future projection [of how the children are doing]," he explained.

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"The appeals court ruling was based on a technical procedural issue," a spokesperson for the Once Upon A Time in Hollywood star, 57, told the outlet of the new ruling. "The facts haven’t changed."

"There is an extraordinary amount of factual evidence which led the judge — and the many experts who testified — to reach their clear conclusion about what is in the children’s best interests. We will continue to do what’s necessary legally based on the detailed findings of what’s best for the children," the spokesperson added.

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An insider previously told OK! that Pitt is keen to end the legal battle and was meeting with his lawyers in secret "to get his ducks in a row.” "Brad knows Angelina won’t stop," the insider said, "so he wants to review his next steps."

Jolie filed for divorce in 2016. The Mrs & Mrs. Smith costars share children Maddox, 19, Pax, 17 Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 15, and 13-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne, Maddox is not subject to the custody battle as he is not a minor.

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