Madonna in court battle to force former husband to bring son (15) back to the US


David Barrett

Madonna has made a legal bid under child abduction laws to force former husband Guy Ritchie to return their teenage son to America.

Mr Ritchie, the film director, attended the latest stage of an acrimonious legal battle over the future of 15-year-old Rocco at the High Court in London.

A judge is analysing the family dispute case following similar court hearings in New York earlier this week.

Madonna made an application last year under the Hague Convention – which deals with the abduction of children – for the return of Rocco.

The teenager has been living with his mother in New York since the couple filed for divorce in 2008.

But in December, while travelling through Europe with his mother on the ‘Rebel Heart’ world tour, he decided to stay with his father – much to the anguish of Madonna.

Mr Justice MacDonald considered preliminary issues at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court and is due to hear more evidence later this month.

Ritchie (47) appeared tense as he sat on the front row of the court with his solicitors during the 90-minute hearing.

Dressed in a grey tweed jacket, navy woollen waistcoat and a light blue shirt with a brown tie, he fiddled nervously with a ballpoint pen and drummed his fingers on the desk as barristers made their arguments.

Neither Madonna nor Rocco were in court.

Lawyers told Mr Justice MacDonald that Madonna wanted the teenager to return to live with her in the US and had issued an application under the international legal convention.

Mr Justice MacDonald said he hoped the pop singer and Ritchie could negotiate an agreement.

He echoed the words of Judge Deborah Kaplan, who is dealing with the dispute in New York, when he said: “It is hoped further discussions between the parties can reach an amicable settlement.” Mr Justice MacDonald added: “It is highly unfortunate and deeply regrettable as Judge Kaplan said that this family dispute is being dealt with in front of her and in front of me, through the agencies of highly capable lawyers.”

Both Mr Richie, who left court without commenting, and Rocco were said by their legal teams to want the court fights “to stop”.

David Williams QC, for Madonna, said: “It is her desire that this is resolved as quickly as possible.”

All sides initially wanted all reporting of the proceedings banned.

But the judge had to weigh up both the rights of the parties for privacy and rights of the media for freedom of expression.

He said so much was already in the public domain following the New York hearing he would allow additional reporting of his remarks and the fact that all sides now wanted the proceedings to stop.

In New York on Monday the pair were reprimanded by Judge Kaplan for dragging their son through an acrimonious custody battle.

Irish Independent



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