By all accounts, Madonna is entrenched in a custody battle over her 15-year old son Rocco Ritchie, who is refusing to leave his father's home in the U.K. and return to Madge's care in New York City. The pop icon's lawyers filed a motion against dad Guy Ritchie in the New York Supreme Court for New York County and a hearing is set for early March before the Hon. Judge Deborah Kaplan, according to the court's website.
The case has the entertainment world abuzz with gossip about why Rocco doesn't want to come home. Toss in public comments from Madonna's camp accusing dad of "brainwashing" their son spinning up the sordid battle, which is typical of most custody cases. Here's my take-away and my #1 tip for how Madonna can win her case. To be clear, I am not representing either party in the Madonna-Ritchie custody battle and have relied upon a number of news media reports regarding the case.
Aside from where Rocco lives, the fight seems centered around parenting-styles. How much pressure about educational achievement should be placed on Rocco, who is set to take high school qualification exams in New York in May?
Guy Ritchie has publicly stated in 2011 that he is "anti-school," and "anti people putting so much pressure on kids and robbing their childhood by giving them so much homework. I think if kids want to arse around, then they should." Though Guy has stated in reports that his experience as a dyslexic child has made him especially sensitive to such pressures.
Meanwhile, reports that Madonna demands strict attention to education and punishments (like taking away Rocco's cellphone) suggest that this critical parenting-style conflict is influencing Rocco to stay with the more "relaxed" parent. Still, a testament to Madonna's good parenting on the education front: her daughter Lourdes is attending University of Michigan.
So what happens if Guy Ritchie and Rocco ignore the New York courts? Madonna may be able to use a treaty called the Hague Convention to enforce her custody rights. The treaty was designed to help parents looking for prompt return of abducted children to their home country.
But she may face a Hague Convention loophole: a country may refuse to return an "abducted child" if the child objects and has reached an age or level of maturity that allows the court to consider the child's views. At nearly 16-years old, Rocco may be viewed as old enough to voice his opinion by both the U.K and New York courts.
But before the next hearing, Madge, bubeleh, please consider my #1 tip for winning any custody case: find a middle ground (be the bigger person). I'm not suggesting that you cave into the willful misbehavior of a 15-year-old boy, but sometimes the more teens are pushed the more rebellious they become. Rocco doesn't seem to be enjoying the public attention spurred by this fight (he blocked her on Instagram). Figure out a way to settle with your ex-husband because he probably isn't a horrible parent. (Sure, he may not live up to your standards -- but who can? You are a legend!) Madonna, you are better than him: compromise and regain your co-parenting relationship so that you don't lose your son completely in an increasingly nasty custody battle.
Cases where parents can request a child's return under the Hague Convention:
- Child was habitually residing in one Convention country and was wrongfully removed or retained in another Convention country;
- Removal or retention is wrongful if it violated your custody rights;
- The treaty was in force between the two countries when the wrongful removal or retention took place;
- The Child is under 16-years-old at the time of filing the application
Do you think Rocco Ritchie should be made to return to Madonna's house? Discuss in the comments.
This blog originally published on TheDivorceArtist.com