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Legal Issues Surrounding Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes Divorce

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Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes by Kathryn Decker-Krauth on Flickr

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes by Kathryn Decker-Krauth on Flickr

Whether you were surprised or not at the news of the break-up of the five-and-a-half-year marriage of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, one thing is for certain: this could get legally messy really fast.

Of course whenever we hear of a celebrity split-up, we wonder about the infamous prenup. A prenuptial agreement “is a contract between two people signed before marriage that details what will happen in the event of divorce, particularly regarding financial affairs.” There have been widespread rumors about not only a prenup but also about other contracts surrounding the marriage of Cruise and Holmes, but the truth is the public simply doesn’t know the legal facts in them at this point (or if they really do exist at all).

Still, it makes sense to believe there was some sort of prenuptial agreement in this instance, so that should take care of a lot of financial issues that may be in dispute, at least.

But the bigger issue in this divorce looks like it will be the custody of Suri, the couple’s daughter. In her divorce petition filed in New York, Holmes seeks sole custody of their daughter, which legal experts such as Judge Lynn Toler of Divorce Court say could be a sign that nastiness is about to ensue.

Notably, Holmes filed for divorce in New York, which is known as a comparative-fault state, meaning that judges in divorce cases can consider the causes as to the breakdown of a marriage in rendering decisions, even those involving custody. Reports say that Cruise is set to file for divorce in California, however, and will challenge Holmes’ ability to file in New York based on the state’s residency requirements. California is a classic “no-fault” state, so judges do not tend to take into consideration the factors surrounding the breakdown of a marriage when ruling on divorce issues. It has also been reported that Cruise will seek joint custody.

Rumors abound that Holmes’ move for divorce as well as request of sole custody is centered on her desire to keep their daughter away from Cruise’s Scientology religion, though at this point, without any proceedings or allegations out there in the public, they are just that — rumors. And we may not ever get the juicy details, according to New York-based attorney Paul Talbert, who specializes in family and matrimonial law. Talbert is quoted in USA Today as saying that “[t]here won’t be a battle in the press” because of confidentiality clauses that are surely in the prenup.

Still, if we hear anything interesting on the legal aspects of the Cruise-Holmes divorce, we’ll be sure to let you know!

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July 2nd, 2012 at 10:32 am