A messy split and custody battle didn’t hurt Angelina Jolie’s relationship with her son, Maddox – rather, the opposite, HollywoodLife has EXCLUSIVELY learned. Read why, here!

At least there’s a silver lining to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s split. As a result, Angelina has grown closer to her son Maddox, 17, we’ve learned! The 43-year-old actress has been in the legal trenches with Brad since first filing for divorce in 2016, and Angelina’s eldest son has been her pillar of support throughout the messy split and custody battle! “Angelina’s relationship with Maddox has never been stronger, they’ve always had a special connection but since the divorce their bond has only strengthened,” a source close to Angelina shares EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife. “They really rely on each other. He’s always been wise beyond his years but since her split with Brad, he’s proven his maturity and wisdom is much greater than that of the average 17 year old.”

How is Maddox wiser than the average teenager? He skips out on hanging with friends to look after his siblings Pax, 14, Zahara, 13, Shiloh, 12, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 10. “Maddox has gone above and beyond to help out with the younger kids. He has Angelina’s blessing to do the teenage thing and take off with his friends but instead he sticks around to be with her and his brothers and sisters,” our source adds. “It’s amazing how selfless he is, he definitely isn’t the average teenager. He’s one of Angeline’s greatest sources of pride and strength, she lights up whenever she talks about him.” Their close relationship was evident after the mother and son duo were spotted holding ice cream cones, all smiles, in West Hollywood on Sept. 9!

It makes sense that Maddox is close to Angelina. He was her first child, whom the Maleficent actress adopted from an orphanage in Battambang, Cambodia in 2002. While she didn’t connect with the other children in the orphanage, she “cried and cried” after seeing baby Maddox, she told Vanity Fair in a 2017 interview. But Angelina doesn’t play favorites, because she’s been out and about in recent days with her other kiddos! For Labor Day she hiked with Zahara, Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne, and also enjoyed a shopping trip with Pax on Aug. 26.

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