“She is going to fight, fight, fight, and she is going to fight to the end,” a friend of the former couple – who finalized their contentious divorce in 2008 – tells PEOPLE of the singer.
An international custody battle erupted between Madonna, 57, and Ritchie, 47, in December when Rocco – who spent a few months touring with his mom on her Rebel Heart tour before he went to London to spend time with his dad – refused to return to New York for the holidays. According to reports, on Dec. 23 a Manhattan judge ordered the teenager to return to his mother in the U.S.
“She is not happy. She is an excellent mother, and people can say whatever they want – but her children mean the world to her,” the friend adds.
Despite the judge’s order, Rocco has yet to return to the States after spending Christmas and ringing in the new year with his father in England.
“He should have been home already,” a source close to the singer recently told PEOPLE, alleging that Rocco has missed some school. “A big priority is her children’s education.”
The mother of four recently broke down in tears while addressing her “challenging times” in a emotional speech during her concert in Mexico City on Jan. 6. “We all go through challenging times in our life, and that includes me,” she said. “I, too, go through challenging times in my life, and right now is one of them.”
Madge didn’t specifically mention Rocco or Ritchie but nevertheless the audience showed their support through applause and cheers.
“Sometimes I think I can’t do a show. I don’t have the energy, I don’t have the strength,” she continued adding, “I come out here tonight and I can see your faces, and I look into your eyes and I see so much love and it gives me strength. So thank you. You are rebel hearts. I feel your hearts beating with mine.”
Madonna and Ritchie are due in court for a second hearing Feb. 3; reps for the exes could not be reached for comment.
• Reporting by ELIZABETH McNEIL