Guy Ritchie 'Is Treading on Eggshells Not to Upset Madonna' as They Work Toward a Custody Agreement
Madonna "is very concerned about her son's well-being" as he lives with his father in London, a source tells PEOPLE
A Ritchie source tells PEOPLE The Man from U.N.C.L.E. filmmaker “is treading on eggshells not to upset” his ex-wife before they come to an agreement about where their 15-year-old son Rocco will live.
The source adds Ritchie’s camp “expects the saga to be resolved imminently” – and that “he does feel he has emerged victorious.”
The international custody battle began when Rocco left his mom’s tour to live with his dad in the U.K. in December but refused to return to New York for the holidays, ignoring a judge’s order. (Her Rebel Heart tour continues in Australia, where she was spotted in Melbourne on Wednesday.)
And while Ritchie is hoping for a settlement in his favor soon, lawyers for Madonna, 57, and Ritchie, 47, as well as Rocco’s court-appointed attorney, have been working toward an agreement outside of court. They nearly had come to a compromise last week before it fell apart ahead of a March 2 hearing in New York. But for the time being, Rocco will be staying in London as they continue to negotiate behind closed doors.
For more on Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s war over their son Rocco, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
As a friend of the former couple told PEOPLE in January, Madonna “is going to fight, fight, fight, and she is going to fight to the end.”
Meanwhile, Rocco’s recent behavior has his mother worried. Since moving in with his dad, the teenager has shaved his head, broken his wrist and been photographed taking a hit off a suspicious-looking cigarette.
“She is very concerned about her son’s well-being at this time,” a source close to the singer told PEOPLE after the hearing. “Madonna’s devotion to all her children, their education and spiritual well-being is legendary in her circle of friends.”
The source added: “Madonna sees the damage that’s being done to Rocco, who has so much potential, which by his father’s influence is now being wasted and destroyed due to lack of guidance from a man who seems out for revenge instead trying to raise his children to be successful human being … This is not a custody battle. This is a mother trying desperately to protect her son.”
As for how Rocco’s life as his custody arrangement is still in limbo, “He’s enjoying himself [and] having a good educational experience” at his new school in London – but he finds the ongoing litigation and spotlight of the media “stressful,” his court-appointed attorney said at the hearing.
Reps for Madonna and Ritchie are not commenting. But the pop icon expressed her heartbreak at an Auckland, New Zealand, concert over the weekend.
“There’s no love stronger than a mother for her son, and if I talk about him too much, I’m going to cry,” the singer told the crowd, her voice cracking as fans applauded in support when she dedicated “La Vie en Rose” to her oldest son. “I hope he hears this somewhere and he knows how much I miss him.”
While the judge urged the parents to settle the family dispute outside of court, another hearing is tentatively scheduled for June 1, in the event they’re unable to come to an agreement.