Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes divorce case has many unknowns
For all the heavy media attention that has surrounded the Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise divorce over the last week, few solid details have emerged about the case itself. And legal experts said it could take some time for more information to emerge.
Holmes filed for divorce in New York, and some legal experts said it would make sense for Cruise to file his own case in California, which is the couple's main residence. But so far, that appears not to have happened. Both sides have said little publicly about the split and whether any private negotiations are ongoing.
Last week, one of Holmes' attorneys released a statement saying she has no plans to seek any type of emergency custody arrangement or spousal support.
One of Cruise's attorneys, Bert Fields, told the BBC that Cruise is considering his own legal moves but was not specific.
A source familiar with the divorce proceeding said Holmes is hoping to avoid a public fight and is not going to fight over money but is concerned about how the couple's 6-year-daughter Suri is raised.
The source, who talked to The Times on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the case, said Scientology and what role it would play in the upbringing of the couple's daughter, Suri, was a key factor in the split. Cruise is a prominent Scientology member.
On Tuesday, a Scientology lawyer denied media reports that members of the church were monitoring Holmes' movements. "There is no truth whatsoever to the [report] that the church of Scientology has sent anyone to follow or surveil Katie Holmes," said Gary S. Soter, an attorney from the church.
Lisa Helfend Meyer, a prominent Los Angeles family law attorney, said it's not uncommon for divorced parents to differ on the religious upbringing of their children.
She said it's rare for a court to base a decision about custody on religious grounds.
“It has to affect a child physically or emotionally. [The religion] cannot just be different,” Meyer said.
Holmes filed court papers in New York. Neither she nor her attorneys have commented on the reasons for the split. Cruise was shooting a film in Iceland when the papers were filed.
Holmes, 33, has retained two prominent law firms that specialize in wealthy breakups. New York lawyer Allan E. Mayefsky has been involved in a number of acrimonious and headline-grabbing splits, including the divorces of model Christie Brinkley, TV anchor Joan Lunden and a Manhattan financier who was ordered to pay his ex-wife $44 million.
In addition, the "Dawson's Creek" actress hired Wolfe, whose website boasts of his prowess in "complex matrimonial matters" involving "leaders or the spouses of leaders" in business, entertainment and sports. He has written extensively about prenuptial agreements and ways to recover hidden assets in divorce proceedings.
"Katie's primary concern remains, as it has always been, her daughter's best interest," the lawyer said.
Speculation about a prenuptial agreement began almost immediately after the couple's engagement. Cruise already had two ex-wives in Hollywood — actresses Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman. He adopted two children with Kidman. His annual earnings — recently estimated by Forbes at $75 million — dwarf those of Holmes, whose father is a lawyer.
Fields told The Times last week he's hopeful the divorce proceedings initiated by the movie star's wife can occur without rancor.
"I would hope that it's not a contentious matter. I know Tom is not a particularly contentious person," Fields said.
Celebrities who have filed for divorce in California have been subject to media scrutiny because of public records law. Court documents recently detailed the property and assets changing hands during Kobe Bryant’s divorce proceedings.
Before that, court papers revealed details about former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's divorce from Maria Shriver, including that Schwarzenegger did not want to pay spousal support to his wife of 25 years.
— Richard Winton and Shelby Grad
Photo: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in 2005. Credit: MJ Kim / Getty Images.