It’s been just over nine months since Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and their respective legal teams found a way, with a pending court date looming, to come to terms, finally striking an agreement regarding the custody of their six children in the wake of their 2016 divorce. And though cool enough heads managed to prevail just in time to keep the two A-listers out of court, sparring their kiddos the agony of seeing mom and dad duke it out in such a public fashion, that didn’t exactly mean there was peace amongst the parental units.
While Angelina Jolie had dropped her earlier petition for sole physical custody, instigated by the September 2016 FBI investigation into Brad Pitt after an incident that allegedly occurred on a private plane, a more equitable agreement—the specifics of which remain confidential “to protect the best interests of the kids,” Jolie’s attorney Samantha Bley DeJean confirmed! News on November 30, 2018—was reached. One that a source close to the situation told us the following week left the Maleficent star “relieved with the progress for the health of the family.”
Pitt, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as pleased. “While some progress has been made, this isn’t an ideal situation for Brad,” a second source told us at the time. “There’s an arrangement in place but it’s not a permanent agreement, and there’s a long road ahead.”
As a third insider told us in December, the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s future with kids Maddox Jolie-Pitt, 17, Pax Jolie-Pitt, 14, Zahara Jolie-Pitt, 13, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, 12, Knox Jolie-Pitt and Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, both 10, would involve more time in the coming months than he’d been able to spend with them since the divorce proceedings began.
“Brad is hoping the worst is behind them and that they can move on from the fighting and painful past. He knows in the long run the kids are best with both their mom and dad in the picture,” the source told us. “He can now move forward and try be a stable and constant positive influence in their lives.”
In the immediate aftermath of reaching the agreement, Pitt was able to spend his first bit of quality time with the kids as he rang in his 55th birthday on December 18. As a source told us, “The kids arrived at Brad’s house on Monday afternoon for a sleepover. Some of them were picked up at 12:30 p.m. on Brad’s birthday—Tuesday—and taken back to Angelina’s. Some of them stayed for more time with their dad.”
The insider added, “It was a huge deal for Brad and something he has wanted for a long time. It was the first time they had spent the night and meant the world to him. It was a great birthday present and he’s looking forward to spending holiday time with them in the coming days.”
While the custody plan remains only a temporary agreement until the former spouses are officially legally divorced—and amid reports that Pitt hasn’t exactly been thrilled with Jolie’s recent public appearances with the kids at events as varied as the December taping of the Survivor: David vs. Goliath reunion special and March’s Dumbo premiere—the work that the two have put in has managed to keep them on a promising right track.
“They’ve both decided to try and put their differences aside and to do whatever they can to raise the kids in the healthiest environment possible,” a source tells us, adding that, while they still don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, “they have had to find ways to compromise.”
To help them in that endeavor, they’ve welcomed the impartial guidance of third party into their tenuous relationship. “They continue to go to therapy weekly and having a third party watch them interact and provide feedback has been helpful,” our insider explained. “They both understand that for the kids’ sake they need to be able to come to agreements.”
For Pitt, the ability to compromise is of the utmost importance. “Brad is doing the best he can to work with her,” the source added. “He just wants to have a relationship with the kids and to make joint decisions on what’s important. He doesn’t want be shut out or shut down. It’s not fair to the kids and they both know that.”
The ability to get to this place has been a long time coming, though it’s always been the ultimate goal. As Pitt revealed when he spoke with GQ in May 2017 about the divorce and subsequent investigation into his behavior, “I was really on my back and chained to a system when Child Services was called. And you know, after that, we’ve been able to work together to sort this out. We’re both doing our best. I heard one lawyer say, ‘No one wins in court—it’s just a matter of who gets hurt worse.'”
“And it seems to be true, you spend a year just focused on building a case to prove your point and why you’re right and why they’re wrong, and it’s just an investment in vitriolic hatred,” he continued. “I just refuse. And fortunately my partner in this agrees.”
It’s been nearly two years since that interview, but it looks like, finally, the right path has been found.
“They are both willing to come to the table to talk things through and that has been a major step in the right direction,” our source told us.
And while the fact that, all these months later, the divorce still hasn’t been finalized despite a judge allowing them to go back to being legally single in April and things still seem rather strained between Pitt and eldest son Maddox, might seem like cause for concern, here’s hoping it’s just the first step of many.