Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 11:29 UK

Madonna and Ritchie confirm split

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A look at seven and a half years of marriage for Madonna and Guy Ritchie

Pop star Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie are to divorce after nearly eight years of marriage, their PR representatives have confirmed.

Relations were still cordial and they expected to agree a settlement without going to court, added Madonna's spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg.

The statement followed several months of speculation that the couple's relationship was in trouble.

In July, the singer's publicist said the marriage did not "need saving".

The pair appeared together at last month's premiere of Ritchie's RocknRolla in London, walking arm-in-arm and posing for photographs in London's Leicester Square.

Financial settlement

Ritchie, 40, had rebutted suggestions his marriage was over with a public show of support at Madonna's 50th birthday party in August and also told a US magazine in July the marriage was "fine".

The statement issued on Wednesday read: "Madonna and Guy Ritchie have agreed to divorce after seven and a half years of marriage, their representatives confirmed today.

Madonna and Guy Ritchie, with their son Rocco, in 2000
The couple have two sons - Rocco (pictured in 2000) and David Banda

"They have both requested that the media maintain respect for their family at this difficult time.

"A final settlement has not been agreed upon yet."

Madonna played a concert in Boston later as part of her Sticky and Sweet tour, but did not mention the divorce decision.

Divorce lawyer Alan Kaufman said if the couple did go to court, it would be a different scenario to the divorce between Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, in which she was awarded a 24.3m settlement.

The Sunday Times Rich List estimated that Madonna and Ritchie had a joint fortune of 300m, with most of that earned by the singer in her recording career.

"We have this basic yardstick of equality and they look at 50-50," Mr Kaufman told the BBC News website.

"You depart from it only if there's good reason to do so.

"In this sort of case, she's bound to be saying - and you couldn't really argue - there's massive reasons to depart from it.

"Because she will say, 'It's an eight-year marriage and a big chunk of wealth I already had before the marriage was started. Why should I share it?'"

Scottish wedding

Mr Kaufman said that if Ritchie "wanted to push it and he didn't mind a bit of adverse publicity, he's probably entitled to some more - but not a massive sum, nothing like half".

It was very unlikely the public would find out the final settlement, even if it was decided in court, he added.

In a rare move, the McCartney-Mills settlement was made public by a judge because of "overwhelming interest in the case".

Madonna and Ritchie married in December 2000 at Skibo Castle in the Scottish Highlands and have two sons - seven-year-old Rocco and David Banda, whose adoption from Malawi was approved in May.

The singer also has a 12-year-old daughter, Lourdes, from an earlier relationship.

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