Brad Pitt has accused Angelina Jolie of "tactically" trying to delay their split, after she filed a request to remove the judge from their almost four-year-long divorce battle.
Last week Jolie claimed that Judge John W. Ouderkirk - who married the former couple at their French estate Château Miraval in 2014 - failed to disclose other "business relationships" he had with Pitt's lawyers, suggesting that he would be 'biased' in their divorce case.
According to People magazine, Pitt has responded in papers filed on August 13, calling Jolie's filing a "Hail Mary" - an American Football reference to deliberately delay a game.
In the papers, Pitt's legal team accuses the actress of making a "transparently tactical gambit" to delay matters, adding that it will be their own children who are 'hurt most' by the hold-up.
The papers describe Jolie's request as "a thinly-veiled attempt by Jolie to delay the adjudication of long-pending custody issues in this case" and "an abrupt cry of judicial bias [that] reeks of bad faith and desperation."
Last week Jolie filed papers arguing that Judge John W Ouderkirk should be taken off the divorce case that she filed in 2016 because he was too late and not forthcoming enough about other cases he was hired for involving Pitt attorney Anne C Kiley.
It says that during the Jolie-Pitt proceedings Ouderkirk has "failed to disclose the cases that demonstrated the current, ongoing, repeat-customer relationship between the judge and respondent's counsel".
It goes on to say that Pitt's attorney "actively advocated for Judge Ouderkirk's financial interests in moving - over the opposing party's opposition - to have his appointment (and his ability to continue to receive fees) extended in a high-profile case".
An email to Kiley and Pitt's lead attorney Lance Spiegel seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Pitt and Jolie, like other high-profile couples, are paying for a private judge in their divorce case to keep many of its filings and the personal and financial details within them sealed, though some legal moves must be made within standard court procedure.
Jolie's filing emphasises that a private judge must follow the same rules of disclosure and conflict of interest that other judges must.
The filing says "it doesn't matter if Judge Ouderkirk is actually biased. Under California law disqualification is required so long as a person aware of the facts 'might reasonably entertain a doubt' about Judge Ouderkirk's ability to remain impartial."
Jolie's attorneys have sought in private proceedings to have Ouderkirk disqualify himself, but the filing says Pitt's side has insisted on keeping him.
Pitt and Jolie were declared divorced, and the Pitt was dropped from her name, in April of 2019, after their lawyers asked for a bifurcated judgment, meaning that two married people can be declared single while other issues, including finances and child custody, remain.
Because most of the documents have been sealed, it is not clear what issues remain unresolved, but Jolie filed papers in 2018 saying Pitt wasn't paying sufficient child support, which his attorneys disputed, calling the filing an effort to manipulate media coverage of the split.
Jolie, 44, and Pitt, 56, were a couple for 12 years and married for two when Jolie filed for divorce in 2016. They have six children.