The judge involved in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s ongoing custody case will be disqualified after he was found to have “violated his ethical obligations,” according to an opinion submitted by three appellate judges on Friday.
Judge John Ouderkirk’s previously granted Pitt, 57, more time with the former couple’s five minor children, but his ruling is now void after an open court of appeals hearing on July 9. The custody arrangement now goes back to the Nov. 2018 agreement.
The appellate judges reversed the previous court ruling denying Jolie’s request to disqualify Ouderkirk, meaning Ouderkirk is now ineligible from serving as a temporary judge in the case.
The judges who oversaw the hearing earlier this month noted Ouderkirk’s “failure to make mandatory disclosures” about other legal proceedings involving Pitt’s legal counseling “might cause an objective person, aware of all of the facts” to doubt Ouderkirk’s impartiality in the case, the court opinion read.
A spokesperson for Pitt tells PEOPLE, “The appeals court ruling was based on a technical procedural issue. 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.”
Jolie’s team is not commenting on the new opinion.
Ouderkirk’s previous ruling granted Pitt more time with their minor children: Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 14, and twins Vivienne and Knox, 12. Maddox, 19, their eldest child, is no longer a part of the custody case.
It was unclear if the decision was legally binding as a source told PEOPLE in May nothing had yet changed in terms of official custody.
In response to the previous ruling, a source close to Pitt told PEOPLE at the time the actor “has always wanted what is best for the kids, and to spend time with them.”
“A few weeks ago, the judge’s decision came down after a month-long trial,” the insider added. “Brad has been awarded significantly more time with the kids. He had had very limited time before.”
The insider said the tentative decision was made based on testimony from “witnesses, experts, people who have been with the kids. The children’s voices were heard, but they just didn’t testify themselves.”
Two days before the judge’s previous ruling was made public, Jolie filed a complaint to California’s Second District Court of Appeal over Ouderkirk’s ruling and continuing purview over the case. Jolie previously failed to have the judge, who is also overseeing their divorce dispute, removed last November.
A source close to Jolie told PEOPLE “joint custody is not the issue that Angelina objects to, there were other issues of concern, but the court proceedings are closed and sealed.”
According to the Associated Press, Jolie’s lawyers argued that “Judge Ouderkirk denied Ms. Jolie a fair trial, improperly excluding her evidence relevant to the children’s health, safety, and welfare, evidence critical to making her case.
The actress further claimed the judge “refused to hear the minor teenagers’ input as to their experiences, needs, or wishes as to their custody fate.”
In court documents from last November obtained by PEOPLE, the Superior Court of California in Orange County ruled that Ouderkirk — who married the former couple in 2014 — would remain on the case.
According to the ruling, Ouderkirk properly disclosed his involvement with his law firm representing Pitt before he was assigned to the case.
Ouderkirk presided over Pitt and Jolie’s 2014 nuptials at their family’s French estate, Château Miraval. He was one of only 20 attendees at the ultra-intimate affair.
Jolie filed for divorce in 2016 and she and Pitt were legally declared single in 2019 as the finalization of their divorce continues.
Can you believe they’ve been going through this divorce for FIVE years? That’s crazy.