Katie Holmes wants Tom Cruise divorce details kept private
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes appear for now to be attempting to keep the details of their divorce private, despite the heavy media attention the case is receiving.
Holmes filed for divorce in New York. Her attorney stressed in a statement Thursday that Holmes does not want details of the case made public and has not sought an emergency motion for child support and custody. Cruise's camp has also said little about the details of the case.
It remains unclear if the divorce will be heard in New York or moved to California -- where the couple lives much of the time.
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.
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.
Neither Holmes 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 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.
"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.
-- Richard Winton
Photo: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in Feb. 2012. Credit: Evan Agostini / Associated Press