The material girl is going to pay some Madonnamony. That is our term for when a female celebrity like Madonna has to pay manimony in excess of $30 million. It was reported this weekend that Madonna and her soon-to-be-ex husband Guy Ritchie are close to an agreement on assets and custody arrangements.
Ritchie, who has been married to Madonna since December of 2000, will probably get the 1,200 acre country estate in Wiltshire — worth $25 million — the English pub called Punchbowl in Mayfair, worth $4 million, and another $17 million in cash in exchange for her keeping their townhouse in Marylebone, London, the house next door and two mews cottages. It’s clear the RocknRolla director, who is now shooting Sherlock Holmes in London with Robert Downey Jr., will not be hurting financially, although reports say that in return for the money he’s agreed not to talk about his marriage to Madonna.
Madonna will keep her New York and Los Angeles homes as well as her cash — hundreds of millions — and her cachet of being such a popular and enduring superstar. According to The Sun, "the negotiations were relatively painless." Guy knew what he wanted and “Madonna knew what she was keen to keep. There was a spell when Guy was in a mood to dig his heels in, but he decided this arrangement seemed reasonable and a long battle over money would make life unbearable."
Although Madonna’s publicist said that the details are not final, reports in The Sun and The Daily Mail indicate that Madonna is likely to get custody of her son with Ritchie, Rocco Ritchie, 8, and David Banda, the 3-year-old they adopted from Malawi. Ritchie will have liberal visitation rights with the boys, who will live with Lourdes Leon, 12, Madonna's child with Carlos Leon.
On the other hand, some observers in London say that Madonna does not want to disrupt her children's lives, school schedules, and friendships. Lourdes has been attending the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in London, and Rocco has also been attending a French school. Wherever they live, they will be able to travel quickly back and forth between London and New York. And so will the boys' father.
The children may carry different passports — American, British, Malawian — but as the famed divorce attorney Raoul Felder told First Wives World, “a child born anywhere to an American mother is an American citizen.” That stands for adoption as well. So the boys are American citizens, which makes everything easier should Madonna choose to move them to New York.
Madonna, who is now on her Sticky and Sweet tour promoting her CD Hard Candy, is represented by divorce lawyer Fiona Shackleton, who formerly represented Paul McCartney in his divorce from Heather Mills. The star may find the issue of custody and visitation will be sticky too, and not at all sweet.
“This is a difficult situation that, at its best, is not very good but could very easy be terrible,” says Paul Neuthaler, a New York-based social worker and divorce mediator. “Courts do not want to separate siblings but when parents live in different countries, it means that the custody arrangement will require one parent seeing the child far less than when the parent was married.”
That is also why in most pre-nups as well as divorce agreements a parent cannot move away without the other parent’s written permission — even for a job. The courts over the years have come tor realize that it is more important to protect the parental relationship with the child than the chance for higher earnings.
There have been heart-wrenching cases where a parent kidnapped his or her own child in order to take them to another country, often countries that have not signed the Hague Convention on the return of kidnapped children. While this is unlikely to happen for Madonna, it doesn’t mean that the custody arrangements won’t be sticky. First of all, she has a brutal schedule now through December touring North and South America.
No matter the final outcome, the three children in this divorce are likely to be, as Madonna's song title says, "Miles Away" from one of their parents.