In happier times: Madonna, Guy, Rocco and Lourdes attend a London film premiere in January 2007
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 5:08 PM on 15th October 2008
Madonna and Guy Ritchie have ended months of speculation about the state of their marriage by announcing they are to divorce.
The Material Girl's spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg today released a statement confirming the couple are to separate after nearly eight years of marriage but have not agreed on a settlement yet.
The short joint statement read: 'Madonna and Guy Ritchie have agreed to divorce after seven-and-a-half years of marriage.
'They have both requested that the media maintain respect for their family at this difficult time.'
A divorce settlement could potentially leave film director Guy pocketing up to £150million, which threatens to become the costliest in showbusiness history.
It is believed the couple did not sign a pre-nuptial agreement.
Madonna, 50, is one of the world's richest women, with an estimated fortune of £300 million.
Ritchie, 40 - director of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and recently RocknRolla - has his own independent wealth but it comes nowhere near his wife's.
Reports earlier this year suggested that Madonna had already hired lawyer Fiona Shackleton - who represented Sir Paul McCartney in his courtroom battle with Heather Mills, and helped him reduce her claim on his £825million to £24million.
A claim by Ritchie for a share of Madonna's fortune would be based on their 10-year relationship, his support of her career and the fact that they have two children, Rocco, eight, and adopted David Banda, two.
Ritchie is expected to move out of their London home and into his Wiltshire property.
It is not clear where Madonna's daughter Lourdes, 12, and her siblings will live.
Madonna's determination to adopt a second child from Africa is said to be 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 from Malawi.
The couple are said to have had a string of rows in recent months. But over the past three weeks it has become so strained they are thought to have communicated only through their personal assistants.
Madonna, who is currently on a gruelling world tour, is said to have wanted to postpone any separation until the New Year.