Madonna, Ritchie urged to settle custody over son

Madonna and Guy Ritchie in a 2008 photo. The couple, who divorced that year, had agreed that their son Rocco, now 15, would live with his mother.
Madonna and Guy Ritchie in a 2008 photo. The couple, who divorced that year, had agreed that their son Rocco, now 15, would live with his mother.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • A New York judge on Wednesday urged pop star Madonna and her director ex-husband Guy Ritchie to resolve a custody dispute over their son, Rocco, 15, who has refused to return to his mother's New York home.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Deborah Kaplan set a June 1 date for the former couple to come back to court following a conference call with attorneys for all three parties.

She said she wanted to encourage the parents, along with their lawyers, to resolve the matter in the best interests of their son. She said she might wish to meet at some point with Rocco, who has been living in London with his father.

In December, the teen ignored a court order to fly back to New York. When the couple divorced in 2008, they agreed that Rocco would live with the singer.

None of the trio appeared in person on Wednesday. Attorney Ellen Sigal, representing Rocco, told the judge the teen was enjoying school in London, but was having "a very difficult time". "Having this order over his head has been very stressful for him," she said.

No details were given of why Rocco wished to live with his father. According to recent celebrity media reports, Madonna's strict parenting style is thought to be at the heart of the dispute.

The 57-year-old is currently on the Asian leg of her Rebel Heart world tour. Rocco had joined her for the initial stages of the tour, working backstage. He also went on tour with her in 2012.

She has posted several childhood photos of him on social media in the past two months, expressing her affection for him. "I miss this boy so full of life so full@of@love" she wrote on Instagram last week over a photo of a smiling, long-haired Rocco.

Twice-divorced Madonna has three other children: Lourdes, 19, with her former partner, fitness trainer Carlos Leon; and David and Mercy, both 10, adopted from Malawi. Early this year, she was rumoured to be an item again with her other ex-husband, actor Sean Penn.

Ritchie, 47, director of the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes, married British model Jacqui Ainsley last year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2016, with the headline 'Madonna, Ritchie urged to settle custody over son'. Print Edition | Subscribe