Sources tell Katie Nicholl, showbiz editor of The Mail on Sunday, a London-based newspaper, that many parts of the settlement to end the seven-and-a-half-year marriage are already in place.
On The Early Show Monday, Nicholl told co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez a messy, Hollywood-style protracted divorce probably isn't in the cards. "I think it's very unlikely it's going to be massively acrimonious," Nicholl said. "I mean -- let's get something straight. This is a divorce. There is a lot of unhappiness. There's bitterness. I don't think you can see this is going to be completely seamless, but there are three children are involved, and both parents love them equally. And I think, if they can push this through quickly, they will, and if they can push it through without too much acrimony, that would be the best for everyone involved. And that is what I'm hearing is going to be happening, and I think we will hear news of a settlement imminently."
And what might that settlement entail?
"As far as the children are concerned, all three will have equal access to Madonna and Guy," Nicholl replied. They have two sons, eight-year-old Rocco and adopted David Banda, three. Madonna also has a daughter, Lourdes, 12, by fitness trainer Carlos Leon.
"They are probably going to be based in New York," Nicholl said. "I understand that Guy has already started looking for an apartment over there, because he realizes that, to get equal access, he's going to have to have a base over there. Madonna is keeping her London apartment over here, where Guy will be based. ... I don't think it's ideal, but no one wanted this divorce to happen. This is going to be their way of getting around it.
"As far as the money is concerned, their assets have already been split up. Guy will take Ashcombe House (the couple's 1,200 acre estate in Britain), which was always the most important thing to him in a settlement. Madonna will keep the London homes and all of the properties in America. And at the moment, I understand, a cash settlement is being thrashed out."
Added Nicholl, "One of the most important clauses in this agreement will be a confidentiality agreement that Guy Ritchie will have to sign gagging him from ever discussing the details of why this marriage really broke down."
And why did it fall apart? "I understand that the marriage has broken down quite a long time ago. We understand that they were sleeping not only in separate rooms, but on different floors of their house in London. I think each of them is career-driven. Madonna, the ultimate Material Girl, the need for success. I think Kaballah became an issue. I think Ritchie really resented the fact that she wanted to use Kaballah to change the world, rather than to use it for personal reasons. He didn't want to adopt another child. She did. And there are increasing rumors coming out of the states that her very close friendship with (New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez) A-Rod was also becoming a major problem between of two of them."