Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s Custody Battle Just Got Even Sadder

Surely amicable divorces happen — even multi-million dollar celeb divorces. We just never seem to hear about them.

Of course, whenever you vow to spend forever with someone, and then one or both of you changes your mind, messiness ensues. And when kids are involved, it gets even messier. Unfortunately, for Rocco Ritchie — Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s 15-year-old son — he’s been experiencing the latter firsthand. And to make matters worse, it’s all been playing out in the headlines for months now.

Madonna and Ritchie, who originally divorced back in 2008, have been in a heated custody battle over Rocco that’s been raging since 2015. But as People reports, the judge presiding over it all issued a sobering message to the sparring exes this week, in the hopes of resolving the matter by reminding them of what matters most: their son’s happiness.

In a ruling made on Monday, U.K. High Court Judge Alistair MacDonald wrote:

“As I observed during the course of the hearing, summer does not last forever. The boy very quickly becomes the man. It would be a very great tragedy for Rocco if any more of the precious and fast receding days of his childhood were to be taken up by this dispute.”

“Far better for each of his parents to spend that time enjoying, in turn, the company of the mature, articulate and reflective young man who is their son and who is a very great credit to them both.”

According to People, the judge pleaded with Madonna and Ritchie to settle the case outside of court — and away from the media – for the benefit of Rocco. While Madonna has said through her attorney that’s what she’s trying to do, the fact that it’s all gone on for several months with no resolution seems to indicate no solution will be reached particularly quickly or quietly. Not helping matters is the fact that Madonna and Ritchie are allegedly not on speaking terms, and communicate solely through Rocco — thereby putting the teen in an even more uncomfortable and unfortunate position.

As Page Six reports, the trouble allegedly began last year, after Rocco left his mother’s “Rebel Heart” concert tour, where he’d been living on the road, for his dad’s London home. The publication alleged that Rocco, who had been in the custody of his mother since the divorce, craved “stability,” which was difficult to achieve while she toured the globe for work. Page Six also alleges that Rocco felt as though his mom was too controlling.

For parents who have not experienced the pain of a divorce in which children are involved, it’s heartbreaking to imagine sharing your children at all, never mind half-way across the world. But to have your son living with you and then choosing to live with his father? That has to cut deep. I don’t care who you are.

The irony of divorce is that you’re often forced to compromise, as perhaps you were never able to do during your marriage. And yet for too many, it’s after the papers are signed that you have to finally learn to let go. Any parent who hasn’t had to share their kids — and all parents who have — can surely feel empathy for Madonna as she fights to keep her son against his own wishes.

At a certain point, our children are mature and wise enough to know there’s more than one way to be cared for and loved …
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The grass is often greener in many kids’ eyes, though, and if they have two homes to choose between, it may be even easier to fantasize that the other one is better than the one they’re in at that moment. In Rocco’s case, it may very well be that life with his dad gives him more comfort and freedom than life with Madonna. But even if that’s not the case, it’s still his perception, and he’s at an age where his impression of reality matters deeply. At 15, shouldn’t he be old enough to decide which parent he wants to spend most of his time with?

At a certain point, our children are mature and wise enough to know there’s more than one way to be cared for and loved, and if options are available, allowing them to make their own choice may be for the best — however painful it may be.

No matter how or when Madonna and Ritchie’s case concludes, there can hardly be a winner declared when a child is put in the position to choose between their parents. And it’s hard to blame Madonna for putting up a fight in the first place — many loving parents in the same situation would. For your child’s sake, you want them to feel wanted; and coming to grips with the fact that they would rather live away from you is heartbreaking, no matter how you slice it.

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