How Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Fooled Everybody: From Court to Co-Parenting While People Were Distracted by Scandal

There aren’t two sides to every story. When it comes to a celebrity’s private world, there are endless versions of what’s going on behind closed doors.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s story was looking pretty unfortunate for months. The once hopelessly devoted couple were at odds in court, with Jolie initially wanting full custody of their six children and news of a family services investigation into Pitt’s parenting shocking a world that was so used to the Jolie-Pitts operating as a cohesive unit.

While the actor was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing—and the court of public opinion didn’t judge him particularly harshly, either—his successful bid to get their divorce proceedings sealed was accompanied by Jolie’s claim that Pitt was actually “terrified that the public will learn the truth.”

So dramatic! So mysterious!
But even though Jolie vs. Pitt dragged on into the new year, there were glimmers of hope that not all was lost.

Brad had stayed at the family’s chateau in France for Thanksgiving while Angie was with the kids in America, but a month later relations had normalized enough a so that he was able to carve out some holiday-themed quality time with the children for Christmas.

Moreover, the recently tense relationship between the Fury star and son Maddox seemed to be thawing since the 15-year-old initially didn’t join his siblings on a visit with their dad in the first month after their mom filed for divorce on Sept. 19.

And then there was Jolie’s return to the spotlight, when she took the whole brood to Cambodia last month for the premiere of her latest directorial effort, the documentary First They Killed My Father (on which Maddox worked with his mom studying the history of his birth country)—an indicator that in the end she didn’t want this divorce drama to fly out of her control any more than Pitt did.
But oh, that sigh when ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked if her family was healthier now, in the wake of Jolie filing for divorce “for the health” of her family.
Choosing her words carefully, she replied, nodding affirmatively, “We are focusing on the health of are family, and so we will be. We will be stronger, when we come out of this, because that’s what we are determined to do as a family.”

Then there was the slight pause when George asked her if she still thought Pitt was a wonderful father, as she had said in the past.

“Of course, of course,” she replied, shaking her head slightly. “We will always be a family, always.”
In hindsight, however, may it really was a delay in the satellite feed. Or at least a pause of a different nature.

Because as it turns out, Pitt was in Cambodia too—not on the press tour with Jolie, exactly, but in the neighborhood to take turns spending time with Maddox, Zahara, Pax, Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne. He was also in and out of the country while she was shooting the film, too, and some or all of the kids would also be flying back to visit him in L.A. at any given time as well.

“They were with Angelina for probably 75 percent of the time when Brad was in the country and they’d go back and forth between her and Brad,” a source said.

Last week E! News learned that tensions had eased between Jolie and Pitt and they were, in fact, talking again rather than communicating solely via lawyers and intermediaries.

“Brad hopes that they can be successful at co-parenting and get to a place where they can be friendly,” a source close to Pitt told us. “They both have agreed to put the kids first.”
Short of inflicting lasting damage on the kids’ psyches by insisting on an ugly custody battle, that is what the couple formerly known as Brangelina was always going to have to do.

So what a relief that not all was as tenuous as it seemed just a short month ago. Rather, Jolie had taken a major step toward re-normalizing the kids’ and her own relationship with Pitt (it seems impossible that they hadn’t started speaking yet by then, considering the logistics involved in a trip to Cambodia, but even if not…progress), and Pitt was acting on what we’d been hearing about him all along—that he was anxiously looking forward to getting to a place (both figuratively and literally) where he’d be seeing the children more often.
And even having 25 percent of the time with his sons and daughters made the miles logged more than worth it to him.

Overall, the lesson learned is that Brad Pitt can be one stealth flyer when he wants to be, and he and Angelina are as adept as ever at taking care of the truly important business behind the scenes, where the view isn’t always clear.

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