Madonna Battles in New York Family Court for Return of Her Son

GeorgiaLeeLang016She’s one of those people whose one word name is instantly recognizable: Madonna. She and her ex-husband British director Guy Ritchie, were in family court in New York this week being scolded by Judge Deborah Kaplan over the custody dispute concerning their 15-year old son, Rocco.

Since 2008 Rocco has lived primarily with his mother in New York, however, on Madonna’s international Rebel Heart Tour last summer, Rocco decided to stay in Europe and moved in with his father who lives in England. Madonna was not pleased.

And neither was the judge this week. She admonished Madonna and Mr. Ritchie suggesting that while they appeared to enjoy living their lives in the media spotlight, their son did not. As is typical in custody cases the barbs flew…. Madonna’s lawyer, Eleanor Alter accused Mr. Ritchie of ignoring a court order and encouraging Rocco to do the same, while his lawyer, Peter Bronstein expressed the folly of forcing a 15-year old teenager to live with one parent or the other, against his wishes.

The expression often used for teens in custody disputes is that they “choose with their feet”, which is just what Rocco has done. Mr. Bronstein also noted the difficulty in forcing Rocco to board a plane back to New York… and he is spot on.

I remember a case I had many years ago of a mature 12-year old boy visiting his father in Vancouver during the summer, and when the vacation was over, he refused to return to his mother in Germany.

There was a court order that stipulated the exact date of this boy’s return and I warned my client that he was obliged to obey the court order, bring the child to the airport, and see that he got on the plane. But the boy took matters into his own hands.

Father and son approached the airline counter where the young man started screaming and tossing his clothes out of his suitcases and onto the floor. He created such a scene that the passenger agents paged the plane’s Captain to come to the counter to determine if they should force the child to board. Viewing the scene, the Captain refused to permit the young man to board the plane.

My client was clever enough to get the names of the other passengers in line who witnessed this spectacle and later agreed to be witnesses, confirming that my client had done everything he could to persuade the boy to board the plane.

Yes, the young man remained in Vancouver with his father after his mother realized she could not force him to return to Germany. A few years later his younger brother joined him. His arrival was unexpected and a real escapade, but that’s another story.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

3 thoughts on “Madonna Battles in New York Family Court for Return of Her Son

  1. Your examples may be good ones but you don’t mention the possibility of a parent with a personality disorder who is using a child to get even with the other parent. Sometimes when a child votes with their feet it is because of parental alienation and one parent has “brainwashed” the child to hate the other parent and taught them to lie. Your example of the child throwing a tantrum at the airport could also just as easily been staged by the father who then pretends to “have tried really hard to get him to go”. It happened to my family and its heart breaking.

    1. Sheila Thank you for your comment. In the case I refer to in the “Madonna” story, there was parental alienation but it was coming from the mom in Germany who frequently blocked her son’s visits to Vancouver. I have written 13 articles on parental alienation, which I believe is one of the worst forms of child abuse. Go to the search function on my home page and search “parental alienation”. Look forward to more comments from you!

  2. I have been a juvenile attorney for 35 years. I represented thoussnds of children in delinquent cases, children in need supervision (CHINS) cases, Abused neglected cases and children caught in the middle of domestic relation cases. I have seen children successful when choosing with their feet at a varity of ages and under different circumstances specifically simular to the two you have spoken about, each with the same and different results. I use to think that I knew the judges and could predict some consistancy and constancy but no longer—–I do know that a jugde who will make a decision without considering the child’s (childrens’) testimony(s) or not ordering the child to be represented (both the “childs best interest” and the “interest of the child”) is commiting judicial misfeasance.
    Eventhough there are many similarities in these cases each case is different and each child is different. It is very easy to cause severe long term emotional distress on any child and subject them to system abuse worse than any abuse their parents could inflict. There are certain safeguards I would recommend in all cases with children and most of those safeguards should be mandated by legislation. They do not exist by law at this time. The judiciary can not be trusted to make decisions that are beneficial to children anymore. There are varying reasons for that. Some of the reasons are weaknesses in the judicial system other reasons are less vertuous and some reason nefarious.

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