Madonna’s custody battle moved to the High court in London in a bid to force her ex-husband, Guy Ritchie to return their 15-year-old son, Rocco to America. Mr Ritchie, a film director, attended a preliminary hearing on Thursday morning.According to Guardian, Madonna had made the application a day after a related hearing in New York. Lawyers have since said the singer would like to withdraw that application and bring proceedings in England to a close and the judge said he had to decide whether this should happen – or whether he should take decisions concerning Rocco’s welfare.
Judge Alistair MacDonald echoed the words of a New York judge also dealing with the dispute, urging Ritchie and Madonna to reach an “amicable settlement” to this “highly unfortunate and deeply regrettable” family dispute.
During a 90-minute hearing, MacDonald emphasised that it was their son who was suffering the most from this public and acrimonious custody battle. “Rocco will have to experience additional emotional upset,” he said.
The legal battle began after Rocco left his mum’s world tour in December and went to live with his father in London. Madonna claimed that Rocco, who had lived with her in New York since she divorced Ritchie in 2008, had been illegally retained in Britain after visiting his father last year. The singer, who is currently on the Asian leg of her Rebel Heart tour, was not at either the London or New York hearings.
The British judge adjourned the case for a full hearing next week, where more evidence will be presented, and said he had to consider whether Madonna’s custody battle should continue in the UK.
“It would be my fervent hope that discussions between the parties can reach an amicable resolution,” he said. “An amicable negotiated resolution is definitely the way forward and in Rocco’s best interests.”
No details were given about why Rocco wants to live with his father, but reports have claimed Madonna’s strict style of parenting is central to the dispute.
Since moving to London, Rocco has been attending school in London but Ellen Sigal, a court-appointed attorney for the 15-year-old, said he was finding the family dispute “very difficult” and was keen for it to come to an end immediately. “We hope to put an end to this as soon as possible without exposing him to more litigation, press innuendo, any of that kind of thing.”
David Williams QC, representing Madonna, said: “It is her desire that this is resolved as quickly as possible.”
It followed a New York court hearing on Wednesday where the state supreme court justice, Deborah Kaplan, implored the pair to put their child’s interests first and reach an agreement over his future.
They were warned that if they could not agree the court would step in and make its own ruling.
Kaplan made a ruling in December that Rocco should be returned to his mother’s custody but it was ignored by the teenager. Madonna’s lawyers suggested that Ritchie be arrested for contempt of court and compel him to come to New York but this was dismissed by the judge.
Kaplan said: “No one is disrupting his household other than the inability of the parents to reach a resolution … If they cannot resolve this matter then eventually the court will.”
In the past couple of months, Madonna has posted childhood pictures of Rocco on her Instagram handle, See below..