Tom Cruise's attorney hopes Katie Holmes divorce isn't contentious
Tom Cruise's longtime legal representative said he's hopeful that the divorce proceedings initiated by the movie star's wife, Katie Holmes, can occur without rancor.
"I would hope that it's not a contentious matter. I know Tom is not a particularly contentious person," Bert Fields said.
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 a New Jersey divorce lawyer, Jonathan 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.
In a statement, Wolfe called the divorce "a personal and private matter."
"Katie's primary concern remains, as it has always been, her daughter's best interest," the lawyer said, referring to the couple's daughter, Suri, 6.
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Speculation about a prenuptial agreement began almost immediately after the couple's engagement. Cruise already had two ex-wives in Hollywood — the actresses Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman, with whom he adopted two children. His annual earnings — recently estimated by Forbes at $75 million — dwarfed those of his young bride, whose father is a lawyer.
Bernard Clair, a Manhattan divorce lawyer with many wealthy clients, said judges generally order divorcing couples to abide by the terms of their prenuptial agreements when it comes to finances. But the court often modifies provisions governing child support and custody, potential issues in the Cruise-Holmes breakup.
"These provisions relating to custody are almost always viewed as statements of intent and aspiration as opposed to enforceable and binding provisions," Clair said.
The decision to file in New York rather than California might have been one of convenience — Holmes and the couple's daughter are currently living in New York — but it also might reflect a desire for privacy.
"My guess is that she brought it in New York because files are sealed," said Manhattan attorney Raoul Felder, a veteran of high-profile divorce cases. "If it was in California, it's all public and you can walk into the clerk's office and get the papers."
— Harriet Ryan and John Horn
Photo: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes at the world premiere "Knight and Day" in June 2010. Credit: Toni Rodriguez / Associated Press