NEW YORK — Angelina Jolie Pitt has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, bringing an end to what began as the world’s most tabloid headline-generating romance before morphing into a glamorous engine of family and philanthropy.
Jolie Pitt, 41, cited “irreconcilable difference” in divorce papers filed Monday in Los Angeles. She is seeking physical custody of their six children, with visitation rights for Pitt.
An attorney for Jolie Pitt, Robert Offer, said Tuesday that her decision to divorce was made “for the health of the family.” The filing dated the couple’s separation to last Thursday.
“I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the wellbeing of our kids. I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time,” Pitt said in a statement to People.
Mark Vincent Kaplan, a veteran divorce attorney who was Kevin Federline’s attorney in his divorce from Britney Spears and has handled several high-profile cases, reviewed the filing at the AP’s request.
“There is no indication on the face of the petition filed by Ms. Jolie that there is a prenuptial agreement, or that if there is a prenup, she is asking the court to consider whether or not to invalidate it,” said Kaplan.
Though together for 12 years, Pitt and Jolie Pitt — known as “Brangelina” — only wed in August 2014. They married privately at their French chateau in the Provence hamlet of Correns with their children serving as ring bearers and throwing flower petals. They announced the ceremony days later.
Their children are: 15-year-old Maddox, 12-year-old Pax, 11-year-old Zahara, 10-year-old Shiloh, and 8-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne.
This is the second marriage for Pitt, 52, who previously wed Jennifer Aniston. It’s the third for Jolie Pitt, who was previously married to Billy Bob Thornton and Jonny Lee Miller.
Their initial romance sparked a tabloid avalanche unlike any in recent memory. Pitt and Jolie became close while filming 2005’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” prompting widespread speculation — consistently denied by the couple — that Jolie prompted Pitt’s divorce from Aniston. Pitt and Aniston announced their separation in January 2005.
But after the media upheaval, Jolie Pitt and Pitt eventually settled into their own unique kind of globe-trotting domesticity. They were seldom-seen Hollywood royalty, their image predicated more on parenting than partying.
The pair adopted children from Cambodia, Vietnam and Ethiopia. In 2006, they formed the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, to which they funneled many of the millions they made selling personal pictures to celebrity magazines.
Jolie Pitt, who became special envoy for the United Nations in 2012, became an outspoken voice for refugees, as well as for breast cancer treatment after undergoing a double mastectomy herself. Pitt built homes in New Orleans for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Jolie Pitt also launched herself as a film director. Last year, the couple starred together in her “By the Sea,” playing a glamorous couple vacationing together in France while their marriage was on the rocks. It made a mere $538,000 at the box office domestically.
In a 2014 interview with The Associated Press, Jolie Pitt said playing a couple with marital problems was cathartic.
“It almost makes you get past those issues because you can laugh at them,” Jolie Pitt said. “You do a film about bad marriage and you witness that behavior. You study it, you let it out, you attack each other and then you just want to hold each other and make sure you never behave that way.”
Jolie Pitt earlier this year finished shooting her fourth feature as director, “First They Killed My Father.” The film, about the 1970s Khmer Rouge regime, was shot in Cambodia.
The pair was seen publicly together as recently as July, when they were spotted taking their twins to breakfast in Los Angeles.
Pitt stars with Marion Cotillard in Robert Zemeckis’ upcoming spy thriller “Allied” and narrates Terrence Malick’s IMAX documentary “Voyage of Time.”
In recent years, Pitt’s production company, Plan B, has been behind a growing number of acclaimed releases, including the Academy Award best-picture winner “12 Years a Slave,” last year’s “The Big Short” and the recently debuted festival hit “Moonlight.”
Story: Jake Coyle, Anthony McCartney