Judge Appeals To Warring Celebrities Over Child ArrangementMarch 23, 2016
A judge has appealed to pop superstar Madonna and her film director ex-husband Guy Ritchie to find an amicable resolution to an increasingly bitter child arrangement battle concerning their son Rocco.
Mr Justice MacDonald was speaking in the case of the 15-year-old, who did not return to live with his mother in the United States after a Christmas visit to his father.
Rocco insists he wishes to remain in Britain – contrary to a child arrangement agreement between his parents that was ratified by a court when they divorced in 2009.
The case was being considered by courts on both sides of the Atlantic and an American judge has directed Rocco to return to New York. However, Judge Deborah Kaplan declined to issue a warrant for Mr Ritchie or an order for Rocco to be removed from school in England.
Judge Kaplan pleaded to both parties to work together to settle matters for Rocco’s benefit.
The teenager has expressed a desire for an end to all litigation between his parents over his future.
Echoing Judge Kaplan’s appeal, Mr Justice MacDonald said a temporary breakdown of trust that occurs between separated parents all over the world was at the centre of the current impasse.
“The court should always be the option of very last resort when parents cannot agree matters in respect of their children,” he said.
“Whilst the law provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes between parents in respect of their children, it is but a blunt instrument when compared to the nuanced virtues of calm discussion and considered compromise between those involved, accepting that this latter path can be a hard one on which to embark, and to sustain, in the context of relationship breakdown.
“It is for this reason that during the course of the proceedings on each side of the Atlantic Judge Kaplan and myself have repeatedly urged the parties to adopt a consensual approach to resolving the matters of dispute between them for the benefit of Rocco.
“I renew, one final time, my plea for the parents to seek, and to find an amicable resolution to the dispute between them. Because agreement is not possible today does not mean that agreement will not be possible tomorrow.
“Most importantly, 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.”
The UK court also gave permission for Rocco’s passport to be returned to enable him to go abroad for an Easter holiday.
Where Rocco should live and how much time he spends with each parent, or the “custody issue” as it is known in the United States, will now be decided by the American courts after the controversial singer withdrew child abduction proceedings she had been brought in London under the Hague Convention.
Amanda Adeola, a solicitor at Macks who specialises in children matters, says this is a very sad case which once more shows that children’s voices must be heard when their parents separate.
“Fighting over the arrangements for the children can cause long term damage to them and also interfere with the relationship the children have with their parents,” she said.
“I echo Mr Justice MacDonald’s view that because an agreement cannot be reached today does not mean that it cannot be reached tomorrow. This case is a prime example of the detrimental effect on children that bitter disputes between parents can cause.
“It is far better for all involved to resolve issues concerning child arrangement by agreement rather then through litigation, but to do so requires parents to put the interests of their children first and not themselves or their own egos.”