Madonna and Ritchie granted "quickie" divorce

LONDON Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:25pm EST

1 of 3. Singer Madonna and director husband Guy Ritchie arrive on the red carpet at the 61st Cannes Film Festival in this May 21, 2008 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Gaillard/Files

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LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. pop star Madonna and Guy Ritchie ended eight years of marriage in a few minutes Friday when a British court granted them a "quickie" divorce.

Neither Madonna, 50, nor British film director Ritchie, 40, were in court for the hearing, according to the Press Association. It was listed Thursday under the names Ciccone M L v Ritchie G S.

A sworn statement released by the court showed Madonna petitioned for divorce on the grounds of Ritchie's unreasonable behavior and she said the behavior was continuing.

In another court document, district judge Philip Waller said he was happy the court did not need to exercise its powers under the Children Act nor give directions under the Matrimonial Causes Act.

Family lawyers said the document did not necessarily mean the terms of the divorce had been finalized, just that the court was happy with arrangements as they stood now.

The couple announced the split last month, nearly eight years after their fairytale wedding at Skibo Castle in Scotland.

Details of the terms of the divorce have not been made public, although several newspapers said Ritchie would not be seeking a share of Madonna's money. A source close to the singer said the deal was not as straightforward as reports suggest.

Their combined wealth has been estimated at around $525 million, but Madonna accounts for the bulk of it.

CUSTODY CONCERNS

Potentially more difficult is how Madonna and Ritchie share custody of their children. Reports say Madonna wants to live in the United States while Ritchie plans to remain in Britain.

The couple have a son, Rocco, who was several months old on their wedding day in December 2000.

In 2006 Madonna applied to adopt David Banda, a boy from Malawi whose mother died shortly after his birth and whose biological father has supported the adoption.

A Malawian court approved the adoption in May.

The singer also has a daughter Lourdes, born in 1996, from her relationship with fitness trainer Carlos Leon. She was married once before, to actor Sean Penn, in the 1980s.

Lawyers said the couple had largely succeeded in keeping details of the divorce private, unlike singer Paul McCartney's acrimonious split from Heather Mills earlier in the year.

"If it has been settled it is fantastic for them and the family that it has been kept out of the limelight," said Anna Wagstaff, a partner in the family department at London law firm Gordon Dadds.

Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone was born in Bay City, Michigan on August 16, 1958, into a large Italian-Catholic family.

She went on to become one of the most successful singers of all time with estimated album sales of more than 200 million and is in the middle of her "Sticky & Sweet" world tour. Ritchie is a British film director who is making Hollywood blockbuster "Sherlock Holmes" starring Robert Downey Jr. as the Victorian-era super sleuth.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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