Madonna, Guy Ritchie end marriage in ‘quickie’ divorce (Lead)

November 22nd, 2008 - 1:43 am ICT by IANS  

MadonnaLondon, Nov 22 (DPA) US pop diva Madonna and her British film director husband Guy Ritchie ended their eight-year marriage in a low-key “quickie” divorce in London Friday following a private settlement.The singer, 50, and Ritchie, 40, did not attend the hearing before the High Court’s family division. It lasted just a few minutes and was heard along with the cases of 16 other couples who were also granted divorces Friday.

Madonna is currently on the US leg of her Sticky & Sweet world tour, while Ritchie is working on a new film project about the life of Sherlock Holmes.

A sworn statement released by the court showed that it was Madonna who petitioned for the divorce on the grounds of Ritchie’s “unreasonable behaviour,” which was “continuing.”

The statement also said that the couple had not been living at the same address for the six months before the date of the petition, which was signed in Beverly Hills.

In another document released by the court, Senior District Judge Philip Waller said he was satisfied that the court did not need to exercise its powers under the Children Act, nor give any directions under the Matrimonial Causes Act.

This, according to legal experts, indicated that the couple had reached a mutual settlement over their assets and the children before the divorce.

High-profile lawyers appointed by both parties had worked feverishly to hammer out a divorce settlement and the custody for the couple’s three children since Madonna and Ritchie announced their split on Oct 15.

Custody rights for Lourdes, 12, a daughter of Madonna’s from a previous relationship, Rocco, 8, the couple’s son, and David Banda, a three-year-old boy adopted from Malawi, were at the centre of the deal.

It was reported that the couple had agreed to share custody for the two boys. Lourdes will stay with her mother, who is expected to make New York her principal home.

Ritchie was quoted as saying that he did “not want a penny” of the wealthy singer’s estimated fortune of 300 million pounds ($450 million). Ritchie’s independent wealth is estimated at 30 million pounds.

“It was never ever about money,” he was quoted as saying in the Daily Mirror Friday. “I just wanted to settle it and move on.”

However, London’s Evening Standard newspaper cast doubt on the suggestion Friday that Ritchie had “not received a penny” from the singer.

“It’s not true that Guy Ritchie hasn’t received a penny from all this. I think that is fantasy land,” the paper reported a source close to Madonna as saying.

The true deal is unlikely ever to be made public, thanks to strict confidentiality clauses.

Under English law, Ritchie would have been entitled to as much as half of his estranged wife’s fortune, the Evening Standard said.

The couple own three multi-million luxury homes in London, as well as a pub and a country house estate in the south-western county of Wiltshire.

There is also a penthouse apartment in New York and a luxury mansion in Beverly Hills, plus a fleet of luxury cars.

The couple married in a celebrity-studded ceremony at Skibo Castle in Scotland on Dec 23, 2000.

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