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The Stealth Divorce – Katie Holmes vs. Tom Cruise

I have written blogs in the past about whether it means anything by filing for divorce first.  Usually it does not but clearly in the matter of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, it does.  Katie Holmes’ father is a divorce attorney and clearly has been planning for the divorce at least for several months on behalf of his daughter.  He has put together a team of prominent divorce attorneys in New York with the goal being to file first in New York.  The question is: Why? 

In reading the articles, it is clear that there is a lot of money at stake.  There is most likely a Prenuptial Agreement.  The stories have been that after five years, Katie Holmes is entitled to $15 Million Dollars, and she has been married for over five years as of this date.  Tom Cruise has filed in California, but Katie Holmes filed first in New York.  The laws are that the first to file is the one who normally has priority between two states, unless it can be shown that the jurisdiction is a sham.  Now, after eleven days, the media is filled with the fact that the parties have settled. The settlement will be secret and when I use the “Stealth Divorce”, it is now, “Stealth Divorce and Stealth Settlement.”

In reading between the lines, it seems like this divorce is a lot about control.  There have been stories over the years that Tom Cruise is extremely controlling.  He is also one of the leading members and advocates of the Church of Scientology.  I believe this is one of the key issues in this divorce.  If it weren’t, then Katie Holmes would not be seeking not only sole physical custody, but also sole legal custody.  With the settlement, it appears that Katie Holmes is going to prevail with regard to custody, and that she will have primary custody, especially with regard to decision making concerning schooling and religious upbringing.  Tom Cruise, on the other hand, will have substantial time with their daughter, Suri.  It looks like a win-win scenario for everyone where rather than fighting this divorce in the media, they are doing a very quick and private settlement which is best for everyone.  By way of background, let me spell out some of the issues from what I have heard.

First, is the difference between legal and physical custody.  Physical custody is where the child will be spending most of her time.  The resolution appears that there will be some type of shared physical custody, though primary decision making at this point seems to be that Katie Holmes will have that authority.  Her reason for filing first and seeking sole legal custody clearly seems to be that she did not want their daughter, Suri, raised in the Church of Scientology, at least at this young age.  Over many years in my practice, I have represented some people who have been in the Church of Scientology and had broken away.  I have been told by clients, and again I have no way of verifying this, that the Church of Scientology is more or less a cult.  I have also been told that there is a lot of mind control and processing going on as you go through various steps.  Remember this is not an old religion and it was founded approximately 60 years ago by Ron L. Hubbard who was a science fiction writer, which was his first claim to fame.

I have also been told by people who have left the Church of Scientology that celebrities such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and others, are treated differently than the typical parishioner, and that they have many more rights than others.  Do I know that this is true?  I do not.  I am just repeating what I have been told by clients over the years who have been in the Church of Scientology and have broken away.

It is also interesting to note that the two children from the marriage of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman have been raised in the Church of Scientology, and allegedly do not have much of a relationship with their mother and are completely under the control of their father, Tom Cruise.  Katie Holmes is from a Catholic family and that could be one of the key issues in this divorce as well.

Is money an issue?  Apparently it has been resolved along with everything else.  This is a case where there is plenty of money to go around, and I am sure that there was a very strong ante-nuptial/pre-nuptial agreement which settles all of the basics.  Katie Holmes will receive the $15 Million Dollars purportedly.  There will be ample child support based upon the almost unlimited sums of money that Tom Cruise has earned.  Public reports show that in 2011, he earned $75 Million Dollars, and is clearly going to earn in that neighborhood this year with several of his movies being released, and doing very well at the box office.

This is a case where careful planning and strategizing was utilized to effectuate a settlement that is almost unheard of, with the divorce being resolved in approximately eleven days after filing.  This is an example of where good strategic planning, along with two people who do not want to air their dirty linen and fight in the media, have resulted in probably what is a good resolution for everyone with the understanding that both parents love their daughter very, very much, and do not want their personal problems aired in a public courtroom.

Celebrities are people who make millions of dollars and are used to being fawned over.  They are used to having their way because they are catered to and treated differently.  Just like you and I, they have problems.  The issues involving money, power, control, custody (both legal and physical), are issues that everyone going through a divorce faces.  There is the issue of religion, which is often a situation especially where parents are from two different religious backgrounds.  There can be school related issues as well.  All of these issues are issues that everyone deals with in the demise of a marriage.  Important is the fact that Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, and their attorneys, were able to resolve this in a very short period of time, without a lot of acrimony, and without a public bloodletting. This is something that they both should be proud of, because they are clearly thinking about what is best for their daughter, Suri.

These are some of my thoughts.  What are yours?