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Madonna and Guy Ritchie scolded by judge in custody battle

The exes have continued to escalate their legal battle over teenage son Rocco, with a judge issuing a stern warning to the pair over the dispute

Madonna and Guy Ritchie

As Madonna and Guy’s custody battle moved to the English high court yesterday, Judge Alistair MacDonald said he hoped the former couple could reach an amicable settlement for their young son’s sake.

“An amicable negotiated resolution is definitely the way forward and in Rocco’s best interests,” he told the pair during a lengthy hearing at which Guy himself was present (both Madonna and Rocco were absent).

He went on to call the public wrangling over the custody agreement “highly unfortunate and deeply regrettable”, adding that Rocco was the one suffering the most during the process.

Rocco left his mother in December and has since been living in London with Guy. Photo: Getty
Rocco left his mother in December and has since been living in London with Guy. Photo: Getty

“Unfortunate Rocco will have to experience additional emotional upset,” he said, according toThe Guardian.

“It would be my fervent hope that discussions between the parties can reach an amicable resolution.”

The case has now been adjourned ahead of a full hearing next week, where it will be decided if the custody battle should continue to play out in the English courts.

Madonna and Guy’s legal tussle began when Rocco left his mother’s world tour in December to live with his film director father in London.

Madonna began legal proceedings in an effort to have Rocco returned to her, making an application under the Hague Convention (an international agreement concerning the return of children taken or kept overseas without permission) to get the 15-year-old back with her in the States.

At the first custody hearing in New York in December, Judge Deborah Kaplan ordered Guy to return Rocco to the US so the custody arrangement could be resolved. However, Rocco remained with his father in London - and on Wednesday, the same judge ruled that she would not enforce her original order to have the teen returned to Madonna’s custody.

Rocco has since started attending school in London, and both parents have agreed to let him stay there until the case is decided.

“He is going to school now, which is a great step forward, and the parents should be commended that they were able to reach this decision,” a lawyer involved with the case said.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Kaplan warned Madonna and Guy that if they could not come to an agreement on their own, the court would have to step in.

“Frankly, both parties have chosen to live their lives in a very public way, and may welcome the exposure, but the child has not. I urge them to consider what is the best interests of their son – which may be to remove him from the spotlight,” she told the pair.

“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.”

A source close to Madonna told People the singer is worried about Rocco's recent behaviour, especially after photos emerged showing the teen smoking a suspicious-looking cigarette with pals in London.

Rocco is said to adore his stepmum, Jacqui Ainsley, and has since settled into a routine in London.
Rocco is said to adore his stepmum, Jacqui Ainsley, and has since settled into a routine in London.

"She is very concerned about her son's wellbeing at this time," the source told People.

"Madonna sees the damage that's being done to Rocco, who has so much potential, which by his father's influence is now being wasted and destroyed due to lack of guidance from a man who seems out for revenge instead of trying to raise his children to be successful human beings."

For his part, Guy is said to be unhappy with how Madonna has raised Rocco.

"He wants Rocco to have the confidence he lacked growing up and thinks Madonna's stern parental style is counterproductive," a Ritchie source revealed to People.

"The welfare of Rocco is Guy's priority."

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