Brad Pitt has fired back at ex-wife Angelina Jolie via his legal team, after she filed a request to remove Judge John W. Ouderkirk from their almost four-year-long divorce battle earlier this week.
Angelina, 45, filed papers on August 7 claiming that Ouderkirk – who married the former couple at their French estate Château Miraval in 2014 – failed to disclose other ‘business relationships’ he had with Pitt’s lawyers, suggesting that he would be ‘biased’ in their divorce case.
However, Pitt, 56, has responded in papers filed on August 13, calling Jolie’s filing a ‘Hail Mary’ – an American Football reference to deliberately delay a game – according to legal documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Ongoing battle: Bratt Pitt has slammed his ex-wife Angelina Jolie for attempting to delay their almost four-year divorce case, saying that it will be their children who are ‘hurt most’
In them, Pitt’s legal team accuses the actress of making a ‘transparently tactical gambit’ to delay matters, adding that it will be their own children who are ‘hurt most’ by the hold up.
The papers describe Jolie’s request as ‘a thinly-veiled attempt by Jolie to delay the adjudication of long-pending custody issues in this case.’
PageSix also adds that Pitt’s team called Jolie’s filing ‘an abrupt cry of judicial bias [that] reeks of bad faith and desperation.’
The former power couple – who first split in 2016, effectively ending a 12-year relationship and two years of marriage – share six children, Maddox, 19, Pax, 16, Zahara, 15, Shiloh, 14, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 12.
Jolie alleged in her filing that Ouderkirk ‘failed to make timely mandatory disclosures of ongoing business and professional relationships between himself’ and Pitt’s legal team.
Final resolution: Angelina with their six children, Maddox, 19, Pax, 16, Zahara, 15, Shiloh, 14, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 12, pictured last February in New York City
She added in her request that she was ‘never afforded the opportunity to even raise a concern or to object to the ever-increasing business relationships between Judge Ouderkirk and [Pitt’s] counsel — relationships that were providing a steady stream of income to Judge Ouderkirk and the potential for future work.’
Adding: ‘These are precisely the type of repeat customer circumstances that create doubts about a privately-compensated private judge’s ability to remain impartial.’
Yet, Pitt’s team has responded saying Jolie had been made fully aware that Ouderkirk had accepted ‘additional new engagements’ involving the actor’s team, and that she had ‘never objected’ to Ouderkirk’s ‘continued involvement’ in the proceedings until now.
Part of the family: Judge John W. Ouderkirk previously married the former couple in 2014 at their French estate, Château Miraval (pictured above)
In Pitt’s response, he also pointed out three times where Jolie and her lawyers are said to have asked to extend Ouderkirk’s appointment to their ongoing divorce case.
The documents add that Pitt is concerned about how the continued delays will affect their children, saying: ‘Unfortunately, the individuals hurt most by Jolie’s transparently tactical gambit are the parties’ own children, who continue to be deprived of a final resolution to these custody issues.’
Jolie’s lawyer, Samantha Bley DeJean, responded to Pitt’s filing in a statement to PEOPLE saying: ‘It is unfortunate that Mr. Pitt’s team has sought to intervene ahead of Judge Ouderkirk’s response.’
‘One can only conclude that this is an attempt to obstruct or influence Judge Ouderkirk’s answer. Any delay in these proceedings is due to their zealous attempt to create an unrecognized special exception for their client’s benefit.’
The report adds that a source close to Pitt’s team claim that it was Jolie’s team who actually knew the judge first, and that ‘the only excuse for their filing is that her team knew they were likely to lose and they needed to stall by changing the referee in the fourth quarter.’
‘This is the Judge who married them, someone who her team knew well and who her team actually introduced to the couple,’ a Pitt source claims.
Hurt: Pitt’s legal team accuses the actress of making a ‘transparently tactical gambit’ to delay matters, adding that it will be their own children who are ‘hurt most’ by the hold up
Pitt and Jolie, like other high-profile couples, are paying for a private judge in their divorce case to keep many of its filings and the personal and financial details within them sealed, though some legal moves must be made within standard court procedure.
Jolie’s initial filing stated that ‘it doesn’t matter if Judge Ouderkirk is actually biased. Under California law disqualification is required so long as a person aware of the facts ‘might reasonably entertain a doubt’ about Judge Ouderkirk’s ability to remain impartial.’
Ouderkirk has 10 days to respond to Jolie’s filing. He is clearly very close to the former couple having married them at their family’s French estate, Château Miraval, where there were only 20 attendees, back in 2014.
Although their bitter divorce battle is yet to be finalized, the former couple are officially exes after they were legally declared single last year.
Their custody trial is currently set for October, though it remains to be seen how long proceedings will now be delayed following Jolie’s latest filing.