The marriage of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie imploded spectacularly on Tuesday amid claims of clashes over parenting, his partying and rumours circulating about a possible affair.
Miss Jolie filed for dissolution of marriage on Monday citing “irreconcilable differences”, but had taken the decision “for the health of the family”, her lawyer Robert Offer said.
Pitt said in a statement last night: “I am very saddened by this but what matters most now is the wellbeing of our children.”
But a battle now looms for Hollywood’s most famous couple over their six children. Court papers show Miss Jolie, 41, has asked for custody of them all allowing Pitt only visitation rights.
It is understood Pitt, 52, will demand joint custody.
Miss Jolie has taken on Laura Wasser, a high-profile Hollywood divorce lawyer who is representing Johnny Depp in his acrimonious split from Amber Heard.
“Angelina will always do what’s in the best interest to protect her children,” said Miss Jolie’s manager Geyer Kosinski.
Jon Voight, Miss Jolie’s actor father, said the divorce was “very sad”, adding: “Something very serious must have happened for Angie to make a decision like this.”
Last night rumours were swirling around Hollywood about the cause of the split.It was claimed that:
The couple married only two years ago but have been together since 2004. They met while filming the comedy Mr & Mrs Smith, while he was married to Friends star Jennifer Aniston. Pitt and Miss Aniston announced they were splitting in January 2005, and within three months he and Miss Jolie – previously married to Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton – were photographed together in Kenya.
Miss Aniston’s fans celebrated the news of the divorce on social media yesterday, saying it was just deserts for the couple. Others were shocked. US Vogue magazine gushed on Twitter: “Today shall go down as the day love died”.
Pitt and Miss Jolie are together worth an estimated $400million (£308million), much of it tied up in properties around the world. It is understood Miss Jolie, worth an estimated $160million to her husband’s $240million, is not asking for spousal support.
The couple are reportedly determined to sort out their divorce amicably for the sake of their children Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, and twins Knox and Vivienne, who are aged between eight and 15. Three are adopted.
However the desire to air as little dirty linen in public looked unrealistic last night as astonishing claims circulated. According to the website TMZ, Miss Jolie was “extremely upset” with the way Pitt was parenting the children and became “fed up” with his consumption of marijuana and possibly alcohol.
Pitt had previously boasted of heavy consuming marijuana and alcohol but claimed he gave up both when he became a parent.
Film director Quentin Tarantino once related how he and Pitt had sat down at the actor’s vineyard, drunk six bottles of wine and smoked marijuana.
Reports in New York claimed that Miss Jolie had hired a detective, concerned that Pitt had been getting too close to co-star Miss Cotillard during the months they spent making Allied, a romantic wartime thriller. The detective “discovered that Pitt was cheating on his wife of two years with Cotillard while boozing it up with co-workers”, said an unconfirmed report in the New York Post, quoting a source who claimed Pitt was “in the throes of some midlife crisis”.
The insider added: “She hired a private eye because she felt that he was fooling around with her on the set.
A separate report also cited Miss Cotillard as a factor, claiming Miss Jolie was upset about “sexually-charged scenes” and had repeatedly argued with Pitt over the 40-year-old French star.
“When they argued over Marion the last time, Brad told Angelina he was done with her insecurities and fits of jealousy.
“He said she was suffocating him,” an unnamed friend told a US celebrity magazine.
Miss Cotillard won an Oscar playing Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose. A source close to her family said she would be “absolutely devastated” by claims she played a part in breaking up the Pitt-Jolie marriage.
“This doesn’t sound like her at all,” the source added. However, Miss Jolie’s friends insist that is not why she is divorcing him.
“I can tell you it is 100 percent not that. It is nothing to do with an affair. The truth is that she did it for the good of the family,” one told the Daily Mail.
“They were a couple still when she came back from Jordan last week but a decision was made between then and yesterday. It’s a decision she made as a mother.”
It is also claimed that Miss Jolie hated the couple’s house in France, which she sees as a money pit.
And – in her new self-appointed role as a high-minded humanitarian – she is said to have tired of all things Hollywood, including her superstar husband.
The couple had been living largely separate lives for a year and were last seen together in July for the birthday of their twins, Vivienne and Knox.
According to one report, “lingering tensions” finally exploded in a furious row earlier this month as Pitt left for a trip to Croatia despite a tearful Miss Jolie making clear she wanted him to join her and the children in France.
Friends say Pitt and Miss Jolie have been growing apart for years, as she became more focused on her children and her work as a UN special envoy while he remained keen on making films and enjoying the high life as a movie star.
Miss Jolie lost her mother to ovarian cancer in 2007 and in 2013 had a double mastectomy operation.
The two events made her focus more seriously on her life and health, insiders said. “Angelina wasn’t into wasting time on frivolous,” said a friend of the couple.
“Brad felt it was important for them to live life to the fullest, but as the months passed, Angelina seemed to withdraw, making the children and her work with the UN a priority.
“Angelina wasn’t really interested in doing any project that took her away from the children and home, but Brad was still wanting the wanderlust, adventure-filled life that first attracted him to her.”