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Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise split centers on Scientology, source says

July 2, 2012 |  1:46 pm

Click for more photos of Tom and Katie through the years

Katie Holmes' decision to divorce Tom Cruise was based largely on her desire to distance her daughter Suri from some parts of Scientology, in which her husband is a prominent member, according to a source familiar with the case.

Holmes filed court papers in New York. Neither she nor her attorneys have commented on the reasons for the split.

But the source, who talked to The Times on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak, said that Scientology was the largest of several factors.

PHOTOS: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes through the years

The source said the divorce proceeding would focus less on money than on custody-related issues involving Suri and how the 6-year-old girl is raised. The source added the hope was that the custody arrangement could be hammered out privately through a settlement among the various attorneys.

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.

PHOTOS: Celebrity splits of 2012

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.

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.

Asked whether there was a prenuptial agreement, Cruise's longtime legal representative, Bert Fields, said: "I can't comment on that. It will all come out."

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.

Fields said 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.

Prior to 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.


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-- Richard Winton

Photo: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in 2010. Credit: Lefteris Pitarakis / Associated Press