This is how I believe things transpired:
- By the time Angelina and Vivienne were photographed walking around Crested Butte with Mariane Pearl on Friday, Dec. 30 all the children had already bonded with Brad.
- By the time the family returned to L.A. from Crested Butte on Tuesday, Jan. 3 they had been advised by the children's therapist who accompanied them on the trip that they were ready to get back together and only needed to go through the formality of getting all the therapists to sign off.
- On Wed. the family had a therapy session with all the children's therapists.
- By Thursday, the therapists and Dr. Ian Russ had met and together they made the formal determination that the children felt safe and secure enough to live with their father. Each therapist would prepare a detailed report covering the four months of the therapeutic process. Dr. Russ would prepare a comprehensive summary.
- By Friday, Jan. 6 they had engaged Judge Ouderkirk to expedite the process that would set aside all the court actions and legally recognize the family's reunification.
- On Friday and over the weekend their legal teams prepared the stipulation appointing Judge Ouderkirk and Angelina's RFO to appoint minor's counsel.
- On Monday, Jan. 9 they filed all the documents in court .
- By 3PM, Jan. 9 their stipulation appointing Judge Ouderkirk was made into an Order.
- Around 10PM, Jan. 9 they released their joint statement to the AP.
They are intent on not wasting time. Which is why I believe they moved back together as soon as the therapists said they could. Angelina and Brad have been eagerly looking forward to that day for almost 4 months and they would not waste any time.
Over the last 4 months they rented several homes in the L.A. area for the family to reside in and for for their therapy sessions. While these are just short term leases or month to month, most are likely not yet expired. They have use of the homes until the lease is up. The family with Brad could have spent part of the weekend in Malibu in one of those homes.
I expect that :
- Once in position, Judge Ouderkirk would have acted on the RFO to appoint minor's counsel.
- Minor's counsel would have met with all the children.
- Their legal teams would prepare the therapists' declarations detailing the children's trauma, their progress and recovery, and explaining their recommendations and conclusions. In lieu of all five therapists giving individual declarations it may be just Dr. Russ giving a comprehensive declaration on behalf of all the therapists. The therapists' recommendations will likely include what the children may need going forward which both parents can now equally support.
- Once all the supporting documents are in place, the request to set aside the Custody Stipulation will be filed. All the documents will be filed under seal. Their Stipulation to seal has apparently not been made into a court order so it is just an agreement between them but moving to a private forum accomplishes the same objective.
- The court-appointed evaluator will meet with the parents and the children together and separately. Minor's counsel would help express the children's desire and readiness to live with both parents to the evaluator.
- Evaluator will meet with all the therapists.
- Evaluator will file his declaration with the court
- Judge Ouderkirk will issue his ruling to set aside the Custody Stipulation
- The last step would be the Request for Dismissal which would have to be accompanied by a stipulation & order because Brad filed a response.
The woman in black with a red scarf and tote who is seen greeting the man ID'd as Brad's assistant Darren, appears to be another assistant who accompanied them back from Crested Butte.
The woman in a black jumpsuit wearing slippers and holding a small pouch who is just stepping off the plane looks like Angela Bissada. Note that unlike the assistant, she is not carrying anything else with her. Because she was traveling so light, I knew she wasn't an assistant. Their assistants are always laden with bags and other stuff when traveling with them. In fact, Angelina and most of the kids are carrying bags or backpacks. I initially thought she might be cabin crew but then I realized she's wearing slippers which almost certainly is not prescribed attire for the crew.
Angela Bissada, whose profile photo is below, is one of the children's therapists and a trauma specialist.
We see Bissada rushing to greet the woman in a grey sweater who is likely Catherine Green. Bissada and Green are the children's two therapists.
Green specializes in teens and is the therapist for the two older boys. We see both boys stopping to chat with her after they stepped off the plane.
Angelina apparently asked Green to meet them at the airport and the boys stopped to chat with her as they stepped off. As noted, they wanted to move quickly and the purpose was likely for Green to get quick feedback on the boy' feelings after the trip that would help her prepare their therapy session the next day.
A summary of points from the Vanity Fair and Market Watch articles on hiring a private judge:
a) “Private judges can’t order that an agreement be enforced” by the authorities, “so if you want to take action, you have to go back to the court system,”
b) All parties must agree on a private judge — which means that both Jolie and Pitt gave Ouderkirk the go ahead.
c) Private judges are arranged by attorneys, and the price is split evenly between clients.
d) His cost: $450 an hour, according to Alternative Resolution Centers, a legal services provider Ouderkirk works with. That’s cheap by LA standards, where private judges often charge anywhere from $500 or $700 an hour. (Alternative Resolution Centers declined to comment on Ouderkirk’s professional relationship with Pitt and Jolie.)
e) While all divorce hearings are technically public, private judges typically hold sessions in offices that aren’t easily accessible to reporters. California also requires that strict criteria be met before court documents can be sealed as “the press and public have a right to know,” says Anita Rae Shapiro, a private judge who sat on the LA County Superior Court. However, private judges aren’t required to file their judgments publicly if both sides comply with terms.
f) “In a normal divorce case, the press and the public can sit in on judicial proceedings,” says Melissa Murray, a family law professor at the University of California at Berkeley. “With private judges, since it’s not revealed when and where it’s going to happen, they never do.”
g) The couple and their attorneys meet somewhere—Wasser prefers to host at her office—and have their case adjudicated as it would be in a courtroom. The practice is similar to arbitration, although the decisions ultimately become public and can be appealed.
h) As Professor Reuben told NPR, “The private judge’s decision is technically just a recommendation, although that recommendation is almost always accepted by the court.”
i) “Every document you file in court immediately becomes public, and if you hire a private judge, you can work out the details before you file anything,” Wasser told The Hollywood Reporter.
j) Last year, Laura Wasser, the attorney handling Jolie’s divorce case, explained, “Our court system is so unbelievably clogged up that I will sit there all day long billing at my hourly rate only to have a judge say, ‘Sorry, we don’t have time.’
k) Private judges, which typically run $300 to $700 an hour, are often available for full day hearings that start punctually.
l) Because private judges have substantially smaller caseloads than sitting judges, they are more apt to be user friendly by scheduling telephonic conferences outside of usual court hours, telephonic conferences to resolve disputes before they become motions, and utilize informal case management upon prior agreement of counsel, all cost saving and efficient techniques.”
m) “A private judge may not be appropriate, though, when a party is belligerent or has been violent,” Randall Kessler, a divorce attorney in Atlanta and a recent chairman of the American Bar Association Family Law Section, told the U.S. News. “Someone who must be reined in by authority may feel they have unlimited ability to argue or raise their voice when the environment is too informal. There some times when the decorum and formality of the courtroom are not replaceable.”
Angelina's 1st statement:
"We can confirm that childcare professionals have encouraged a legal agreement accepted and signed by both sides over a week ago. In accordance with this agreement, the six children will stay in their mother's custody, and the children will continue therapeutic visits with their father. This has been determined by childcare professionals to be in the children's best interest.
"We are not in a position to discuss the details. We hope now that it is clear that the events which led to the dissolution filing involved minor children and their wellbeing, there will be understanding of the sensitivity of the family situation. We believe that all sides are committed to healing the family and ask for your consideration during this difficult time."
Her 2nd statement:
The job of the DCFS is to make sure the children are in a safe and secure situation. As we said earlier this week, childcare professionals encouraged a legal agreement accepted and signed by both sides that was in the best interest of the children. Angelina said from the beginning that she felt she had to take action for the health of the family and is relieved that after their 8-week involvement, the DCFS is now satisfied the safeguards are put in place that will allow the children to heal."
The joint statement:
"The parties and their counsel have signed agreements to preserve the privacy rights of their children and family by keeping all court documents confidential and engaging a private judge to make any necessary legal decisions and to facilitate the expeditious resolution of any remaining issues. The parents are committed to act as a united front to effectuate recovery and reunification."******
It's clear from item a) above that they officially engaged a private judge when it was no longer necessary to enforce the Custody Stipulation.
I've reworded their statements to reflect where they are:
The children's best interest no longer require the legal agreement that was encouraged by childcare professionals. The safeguards put in place by the DCFS have allowed the children to heal from the effects of the events which led to the dissolution filing. The children no longer require therapeutic visits with their father. They now feel safe and secure in their father's company and do not need to stay in their mother's custody. The family's health and the children's well-being no longer require the continuation of Angelina's action. All sides have worked to heal the family.
They engaged Judge Ouderkirk so he can act privately and expeditiously to clear the family's legal path. Since there is no longer any need to control Brad's access to the children, Angelina and Brad can act as a couple to complete the children's recovery and the family's reunification.
What is left are just legal formalities, albeit still an involved process. As I noted above, all indications are the family is already together.
Angelina's lawyer, Robert Offer announced the dissolution filing on Tuesday, Sept. 20:
"Angelina Jolie Pitt has filed for dissolution of the marriage. This decision was made for the health of the family. She will not be commenting at this time, and asks that the family be given their privacy during this difficult time."
Geyer Kosinski's staement: "Angelina will always do what's in the best interest of taking care of her family. She appreciates everyone's understanding of their need for privacy at this time."
It is notable that none of the outlets have any comment from the normally very voluble and accessible "close Pitt friend" about either of Brad's public appearances.
The family accomplished during their two-week Christmas Holiday what the therapists had thought would take up to a year.