Judge urges Madonna, Ritchie to end custody row

LONDON • A British judge made a fresh plea on Monday to pop star Madonna and her former husband Guy Ritchie to work out an amicable solution to their custody battle over their teenage son.

Judge Alistair MacDonald said it would be a "very great tragedy" if any more of Rocco's childhood was lost in the spat between the singer and the film director about where the 15-year-old should live.

Rocco has been living with Ritchie in London since late last year and, in December, ignored a New York court order to return to his mother in the United States.

However, Madonna, 57, issued legal proceedings in the British capital last December, but later sought to withdraw them.

At Monday's hearing - which neither Madonna nor Ritchie attended - judge MacDonald granted the singer permission to end the proceedings in Britain and appealed to both sides to settle the matter, according to a transcript of his judgment.

"At the root of these proceedings... is a temporary breakdown in trust. For all the media coverage, comment and analysis, this is a case born out of circumstances that arise for countless separated parents the world over," he said.

"I renew, one final time, my plea for the parents to seek and to find an amicable resolution to the dispute between them." A hearing in New York is set for June 1.

Madonna wrapped up her Rebel Heart world tour over the weekend in Sydney. Rocco had travelled with her for the tour's initial stages, working backstage. He also toured with the singer in 2012.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2016, with the headline 'Judge urges Madonna, Ritchie to end custody row'. Print Edition | Subscribe