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Sat 25 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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Madonna, back on the market?

They said it had to happen, and now, apparently, it has. At the time of going to press, British newspapers were awash with reports that Madonna and her film director husband Guy Ritchie are to divorce. Here's what was said.

They said it had to happen, and now, apparently, it has. At the time of going to press, British newspapers were awash with reports that Madonna and her film director husband Guy Ritchie are to divorce. Here's what was said.

The Sun

The infamous red top that broke the story claimed Madonna and Ritchie are going public with their split because they "can't bear to live with the pretence any longer".

The paper said the couple had "a string of shouting matches about the amount of time each devotes to their careers, and over Madonna's desire to adopt another child. These arguments smashed through their attempts at reconciliation "like a sledgehammer'."

A source apparently told The Sun: "It's very sad. They were a great couple and brilliant parents. They just couldn't live together any more. Despite huge attempts to patch things up they both knew deep down that divorce was on the cards. It wasn't a matter of ‘if' but ‘when'. They tried hard over the last few months but their fighting was getting out of control.

"The final straw came before Madonna started her US tour. Madonna wanted a highly stage-managed separation, with their split being announced when it was convenient for her. She didn't want the distraction while she is trying to concentrate on her tour.

"But a series of rows around Guy's 40th birthday last month were so bad that Madge ended up storming out of the house and Guy's had enough."

Sky News

Sky News reported that Madonna, 50, "is said to have been in talks with Fiona Shackleton, the lawyer who handled Sir Paul McCartney's high-profile split from Heather Mills this year."

Sky's entertainment correspondent Matt Smith said: "One thing we know is they are private people. Their wedding was very private - it wasn't spilt over Hello! or OK! magazine as other couples do. They will be keen to keep this out of the courts.

"I think they are sensible people and will have watched what happened with Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills in the High Court - how the money was exposed and how all the dirty laundry was aired in public."

According to Sky, "the couple are not thought to have signed a pre-nuptial agreement when they married in 2000. Madonna's wealth is estimated at about £300m." Sky reported that legal experts have speculated that Ritchie - whose films include Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, Rock'n'Rolla and Swept Away - could walk away with up to £50m.

The Mirror

The Sun's rival red top said the couple "who married seven years ago at a lavish ceremony in Scotland planned to separate after agreeing they had fallen out of love".

The paper claimed "the showbiz couple are communicating via their personal assistants because they are rowing too much.

"Ritchie, who has broken off from filming in France to fly back to the UK to inform his parents of the split, is now set to move out of the couple's London home and move into the Wiltshire mansion owned by the pair."

The paper said that despite Madonna's wish to delay, Ritchie refused and now "the date is believed to have been brought forward with both parties wanting a divorce finalised before Christmas."

The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail called Madonna and Ritchie's marriage "one of showbusiness's most volatile unions" and cites "Madonna's determination to adopt a second child from Africa" as one of the main reasons for the separation.

"Her husband fiercely opposes adding to the family in this way as their marriage was placed under severe strain two years ago when they adopted toddler David Banda from Malawi."

The Mail also alluded to the fact that "Madonna denied reports of an affair with U.S. baseball star Alex Rodriguez, who has filed for divorce.

"But Ritchie apparently decided that they should go their separate ways immediately."

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