He thought the end was finally near. Almost a year and a half had passed since Angelina Jolie filed for divorce, and she and Brad Pitt “had been moving forward privately and amicably,” an insider says. “They were just days away from signing off on their [divorce and custody] agreement.” Brad, the insider notes, “was looking forward to spending a large amount of quality time with the kids this coming summer.”

But then it all blew up. During a meeting, “Angie suddenly reversed course,” the insider exclusively reveals. “She thought Brad was pushing too hard to resolve the situation to his benefit and felt she was losing control.” She demanded more time to hash things out, and Brad — hoping to appease her — agreed to a joint request asking the court to keep a temporary judge on their case until Dec. 31. “Now it’s looking like the divorce won’t be finalized at least until the end of the year,” notes the insider. Then Angelina made a truly shocking announcement: She’s decided to take their six children away to England, 5,000 miles away from their dad, for much of the spring and summer. “It’s quickly gone from amicable to hostile,” says the insider, “and sparked a new war over the kids.”

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Until a final custody plan is in place, Angelina, 42, gets to call the shots. “Things have disintegrated so badly,” the insider says, that when Brad objected to Angie’s decision to move to the U.K., she simply responded, “Too bad.” The actress, who’s been teaching classes at the London School of Economics, will be filming Maleficent 2 in London from April through August. And she made it clear that Maddox, 16, Pax, 14, Zahara, 13, Shiloh, 11, and twins Vivienne and Knox, 9, will live with her in a rented mansion during her shoot — no negotiations.

Brad, 54, is furious. “He wants the kids to stay with him in LA for at least a two-week period over the summer, but Angie has the right to say no to that request and tell him to come to London if he wants to see the children,” says the insider. The actor, who wants joint custody, will fly to Britain to spend time with them, adds a source, “but traveling halfway around the world for long weekends isn’t going to be easy.”

Brad’s tired of playing games. “He adores the kids and feels lost without them,” says the source. “He’s tried his best to be as amicable as possible with Angie, but she’s hard work — it ’s her way or the highway. He’s rapidly losing patience.”