By Keiran Southern, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
Brad Pitt has been granted joint custody of his children with Angelina Jolie in a tentative ruling, the PA news agency has confirmed.
Jolie filed for divorce in 2016 and the former Hollywood golden couple has been wrangling over the split in legal proceedings in California largely shielded from public view.
It is understood John Ouderkirk, a private judge hired by the stars, has now delivered a tentative ruling giving Pitt (57) joint custody of their five underage children.
Pitt and Jolie (45) are parents to Pax (17), Zahara (16), Shiloh (14) and 12-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox.
The oldest, 19-year-old Maddox, is not subject to the custody decision.
A source close to the case told PA the judge’s ruling would “significantly increase” Oscar-winner Pitt’s time with the children.
The decision is said to have been based on “extensive testimony” from those involved with the case, including professionals who had spent time with the children.
A source told US outlet Page Six that Jolie, also an Oscar winner, had not objected to joint custody but there were “other issues of concern”.
They stressed the ruling was tentative.
Both Troy star Pitt and Tomb Raider actress Jolie, who met on the set of 2005 film Mr & Mrs Smith and married in 2014, have discussed their private lives in the media.
In an interview with Vogue last year, Jolie said she split from Pitt for the “wellbeing” of her family.
“It was the right decision,” Jolie said. “I continue to focus on their healing.
“Some have taken advantage of my silence, and the children see lies about themselves in the media, but I remind them that they know their own truth and their own minds. In fact, they are six very brave, very strong young people.”
In a 2017 interview with GQ, Pitt discussed his decision to stop drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.
He said: “For me every misstep has been a step toward epiphany, understanding, some kind of joy. Yeah, the avoidance of pain is a real mistake. It’s the real missing out on life.”
Accepting his best supporting actor Oscar last year for Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, Pitt paid tribute to his children and said: “This is for my kids, who colour everything I do. I adore you.”
Earlier this week, Jolie criticised Mr Ouderkirk – who officiated her wedding with Pitt – for not allowing the former couple’s children to testify in the custody hearing.
She previously tried to have him disqualified from the case over his alleged professional relationships with members of Pitt’s team.
Jolie sought a divorce days after a disagreement on a private jet flying the then-couple and their children from France to Los Angeles.
Pitt was accused of being abusive to Maddox, then 15, but no charges were brought against the star following investigations by the FBI and child welfare officials.