On Tuesday, Angelina Jolie filed a cross-complaint against her ex-husband Brad Pitt as part of the ongoing legal battle over the winery they shared during their relationship, Chateau Miraval. In the complaint, Jolie described — for the first time in detail — the abuse she says she and her children endured from Pitt on a now-infamous private flight in 2016.
The incident began, Jolie’s lawyers claimed, on a flight to Los Angeles from Chateau Miraval in September 2016. According to the complaint, Pitt accused Jolie of being “too deferential” to the couple’s six children and took her into the bathroom on the plane to confront her. The complaint states Pitt grabbed Jolie “by the head and shook her, and then grabbed her shoulders and shook her again before pushing her into the bathroom wall.” The confrontation continued elsewhere on the plane, where Jolie claims Pitt “choked one of the children” and “struck another in the face.” Before the flight ended, Jolie claims, Pitt poured beer on her and poured beer and red wine on the children. Five days after the flight, Jolie filed for divorce.
The day after Jolie’s cross-complaint was made public in The New York Times and other outlets, Pitt’s attorney issued a blanket denial, calling the allegations “completely untrue.” The attorney then made an updated statement the following day: “(Jolie’s) story continues to evolve each time she tells it. Brad has accepted responsibility for what he did but will not for things he didn’t do.”
Then, sources close to Pitt quickly ran to TMZ to accuse Jolie of orchestrating a “smear campaign” against him. “All Angelina wants is revenge against Brad,” the site claimed.
This has been the pattern for the last six years: Jolie makes a claim about Pitt in court, and Pitt responds by questioning her motives in the tabloids and perhaps sitting for a sympathetic interview with a men’s magazine. Then Jolie will show up in public somewhere with the kids, underlining the fact that she is the primary parent, which sends Pitt’s sources running back to TMZ again to bitch about how Jolie has poisoned the kids against him.
This back-and-forth has been near constant, and the two seem no closer to a resolution than they did in 2016. Though a judge declared them legally single in 2019, Pitt and Jolie have still not resolved their custody issues. (A judge granted 50-50 custody in May 2021, but the ruling was later vacated on appeal after Jolie pressed to have the judge removed due to a conflict of interest.)
Two of Pitt and Jolie’s children have turned 18 since Jolie filed for divorce, making custody arrangements for them now unnecessary. And it does not seem like the older kids have reestablished much of a relationship with their dad: When Zahara, 17, went off to college this fall, Jolie was the one to drop her off, and Pitt seemed surprised by the news during a red-carpet interview at the Bullet Train premiere. (Despite it all, Pitt is still starring in blockbusters!)
Now, of course, there’s the additional dispute over the winery, which seems to be Pitt’s primary concern these days. Pitt sued Jolie in February, claiming Jolie violated his contractual rights by selling her shares in Mirval to Tenute del Mondo, a Stoli group subsidiary that is indirectly owned by a Russian oligarch. In her cross-complaint, Jolie’s lawyers claimed she initially offered to sell her shares to Pitt, but Pitt walked away from the deal after Jolie refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement that would have prevented her from speaking out about Pitt’s alleged abuse.
It seems unlikely that either party will get what they want in this ever-worsening legal battle. Jolie is not going to magically reverse the Miraval sale so that Pitt, who has said he is sober, can peacefully live out his days making wine and genderless grape serums at the vineyard where he married Jolie in 2014. And Pitt is not going to apologize to Jolie for his alleged behavior or ever confirm to the press that her claims have merit. Meanwhile, each year that this goes on, the ex-couple’s children get older and more capable of making decisions for themselves.
The only assets left to divide in this case are the rage and resentment that Pitt and Jolie appear to have for each other. No court is capable of handling such a matter, but it seems the two will continue to ram their concerns through the legal system until they run out of money.
Pitt and Jolie were together for 12 years, married only for two. Their divorce has now gone on for three times as long as their marriage, and perhaps will never end.