Brad Pitt’s Request to Seal Custody Documents Denied: Insiders Explain What’s Next

Brad Pitt’s emergency request to seal custody documents — related to his bitter divorce from Angelina Jolie — was denied by a judge at a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, December 7. However, the actor is continuing his push to keep the custody fight private, and a hearing on whether to seal the entire case has been set for January 17, a Pitt source tells Us Weekly.

On Wednesday, the Allied actor sought to make custody details relating to their six children private, after Jolie’s lawyer filed paperwork outling the pair’s temporary, voluntary arrangement with the court this week. Pitt, 52, is seeking joint physical custody of their children, Maddox, 15, Pax, 13, Zahara, 11, Shiloh, 10, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 8, who are living with Jolie in Los Angeles. Agreed upon by the stars in September, the decision to file court papers on the temporary custody agreement, which includes voluntary drug tests for Pitt, put the details on the public record.  

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie arrive at the 84th Annual Academy Awards at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Feb. 26, 2012. in Hollywood. Steve Granitz/WireImage

A source close to Jolie explains that the actress, 41, wanted their parenting agreement on the legal record because Pitt allegedly strayed from the terms in multiple ways: by trying to increase the number of visits with the children, attempting to change the location of visits and seeking to include another therapist in the process. Jolie wants Pitt to “heal the relationship with the children,” but within the recommendations established by therapists and previously agreed to by both stars, the source adds. As Us previously reported, Pitt was cleared of child abuse allegations by the L.A. Department of Children and Family Services last month. An FBI probe into an alleged incident aboard a private jet involving the star and his son Maddox was also dropped.

However, a source close to Pitt counters to Us that the actor believes keeping the custody battle private is in their kids’ best interests, and he now wants to have the entire case sealed. “The filing has no legal bearing or relevance. It wasn’t a stay, it was a voluntary agreement. There’s nothing to preserve,” the source said of the custody agreement submitted to the court by Jolie’s team this week. 

One expert cautions that the conflict could have a negative impact on the children. Princeton, New Jersey–based psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore, author of the Great Courses series Raising Emotionally and Socially Healthy Kids, tells Us that children typically find public conflict between their parents “very stressful.… In general, for parents who are divorcing, the more they can keep the conflict small and civil, the easier this stressful time is for the kids,” said Kennedy-Moore, who has not worked with the famous family. “I can say keeping the conflict small and private makes it easier for kids. To see the back-and-forth between parents is difficult in general because it can make children feel like they have to take sides and it doesn’t give them the security of being able to take their parents for granted.”

Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Want stories like these delivered straight to your phone? Download the Us Weekly iPhone app now!