One month after confirming they were to split, Madonna and her film-director husband Guy Ritchie were granted a preliminary divorce this morning in the High Court of London.
A sworn statement released by the court states that Madonna, 50, divorced Ritchie, her husband of eight years, on the grounds of "unreasonable behavior."
During a one-minute hearing that neither party attended, the judge issued a "decree nisi" the first in a two-step process to divorce in the U.K. It's known as a "quickie divorce" because, barring any disputes, the divorce should be finalized after just six weeks and one day.
According to her spokesperson, Madonna will not be releasing a statement. She is scheduled to perform Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J., as part of her ongoing Sticky & Sweet Tour. (See pictures and hear audio of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2008.)
Ritchie, who is currently in London filming his new film Sherlock Holmes, is said to be relieved. According to British tabloid the Daily Mirror, he blurted out, "Thank God," on the set when he learned on Thursday evening that the hearing would take place. The Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director celebrated quietly with a pint of beer.
Reports also indicate that the couple reached a mutual and amicable settlement over their assets and custody of their children prior to the divorce. Madonna, whose personal fortune is estimated at $450 million, reportedly offered Ritchie $15 million as part of the settlement. Ritchie, who controls an estimated $45 million fortune, refused to take it.
"It was never about money never about her bloody art collection," the Daily Mirror reported him as saying. "I just wanted to settle it and move on."
Under British law, Ritchie could have been entitled to up to 50% of the money the "Material Girl" singer earned during their marriage.
The couple's two sons, Rocco, 8, and David, 3 (the latter adopted from Malawi in 2006), will divide their time between New York and London, where Ritchie will continue to reside. Lourdes, 12, whom Madonna conceived with her former personal trainer, will live with her mother in New York City.
Unsurprisingly, Madonna will retain the couple's $12 million house in Beverly Hills and two New York apartments. The pop star has grown increasingly cold toward England, and her desire to spend more time in the U.S. is widely rumored to have been a source of tension between the pair.
Ritchie will keep a 1,200-acre estate in Wiltshire and the couple's Punchbowl pub in London's tony neighborhood of Mayfair. The remaining London properties a $10 million townhouse, a $9 million townhouse next door to it and two cottages will be sold and the money split.
The seemingly smooth divorce bucks the trend of exorbitant payouts between wealthy couples. Eight months ago, in a particularly acrimonious split, Sir Paul McCartney was ordered by a judge to pay Heather Mills more than $45 million. And yesterday, former Armani model Slavica Ecclestone confirmed she will divorce her husband Bernie Ecclestone, the former chief of Formula One racing, whose fortune is estimated at $3.6 billion. Lawyers are already predicting that Slavica could walk away with half of her husband's fortune, making it the highest settlement to a spouse in legal history. It's unknown whether they signed a prenuptial agreement.