“This decision was made for the health of the family. She will not be commenting, and asks that the family be given its privacy at this time,” attorney Robert Offer said in a statement.
The Oscar-winning actress filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, citing irreconcilable differences, court documents showed. Jolie sought full physical custody of their six children ages 8 to 15 with visitation rights for Pitt but did not seek spousal support. Jolie cited their separation date as Sept. 15.
“I am very saddened by this but what matters most now is the well-being of our kids,” Pitt told People magazine. “I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time.”
Jolie and Pitt, known collectively as “Brangelina,” were one of the entertainment world’s most visible couples, due to their good looks, successful films and activism. They married in 2014 after a decade together.
Their relationship was steady fodder for tabloids with reports focusing on what role Jolie played in the breakup of Pitt’s marriage to actress Jennifer Aniston and, more recently, possible trouble in the marriage.
Media commentators reacted with surprise and sadness to the news. “Today shall go down as the day love died,” Vogue magazine said in an online report on the couple’s split.
Social media buzzed with #brangelina mentioned roughly 720 times per minute on Twitter, more than triple mentions for the United Nations General Assembly, according to analytics firm Zoomph.
Jolie, 41, who won a best-supporting actress Oscar for “Girl, Interrupted” in 2000, was previously married to actors Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton.
Pitt, 52, was married to Aniston in 2003 when he and Jolie filmed “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” the story of assassins unknowingly assigned to kill each other. There were reports of an affair, but Jolie told Vogue they were only “very, very good friends” until Pitt and Aniston split in 2005.
Before their August 2014 wedding at their French estate, Jolie and Pitt had said they would not wed until same-sex couples were allowed to marry.
MOVIES BOOKEND THE RELATIONSHIP
While Pitt and Jolie won praise for their on-screen chemistry in “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” their most recent film collaboration, “By the Sea,” last year was about a married couple drifting apart. Jolie wrote and directed the latter.
Jolie has been estranged from her father, actor Jon Voight, but he told “Inside Edition” he was concerned about the divorce filing. “It’s very sad,” he said. “Something very serious must have happened for Angelina to make a decision like this.”
Peter Walzer, a California attorney who represented actress Katie Holmes in her divorce from superstar Tom Cruise, said in a phone interview it was unusual Jolie sought sole physical custody of the children and it was equivalent to saying Pitt was not competent to be a parent. “It’s an insult,” Walzer said.
Jolie had an offbeat reputation early in her career but has taken on humanitarian causes and was named a special envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
She traveled to Afghanistan, Sudan, Tanzania, Iraq and Jordan to call attention to the plight of refugees and the underprivileged.
The couple started a foundation to finance reconstruction of homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Together they started the Jolie-Pitt Foundation in 2006 to help charities worldwide.
Their children include sons adopted from Cambodia and Vietnam and a daughter adopted from Ethiopia, as well as three biological children.
To encourage other women, Jolie spoke out publicly about elective surgeries in 2013 and 2015 to remove her breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes as a preventive measure due to a family history of cancer.
In addition to her Oscar win, Jolie was nominated for an Academy Award for “Changeling” in 2008. Pitt’s breakout role came in a supporting part in “Thelma & Louise” in 1991. His other films include “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Moneyball,” and the “Ocean’s 11” films.
(Story refiled to add dropped word ‘in’ in paragraph 6)
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Piya Sinha-Roy; Additional reporting by Melissa Fares and Angela Moon; Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)