Earlier this week, gossip magazines and websites were abuzz over news that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had already reached a mutually acceptable divorce settlement — presumably addressing such issues as child custody and child support — and that the matter was essentially resolved.
While details of the divorce settlement are confidential, various sources have indicated that Holmes has what amounts to primary physical custody of the couple’s daughter Suri, but that Cruise will still have significant custodial time.
However, relatively little mention has been made of the issue of legal custody. Specifically, little is known as to whether the couple will share authority/responsibility for making major decisions regarding the welfare of their child (education, healthcare, religion, etc.).
Interestingly, just a week before the divorce settlement, Holmes actually sought full custody — both physical and legal — of her six-year-old daughter.
Both news outlets and tabloids alike speculated that it might have been Cruise’s devotion to the controversial Church of Scientology that led to both the divorce filing and Holmes’ initial decision to seek full custody of her daughter.
One theory floating about for Holmes’ decision was medical care. Specifically, the Church of Scientology is often opposed to medication and psychology. Holmes might have feared that if Cruise retained custody, he could potentially prevent their daughter from receiving the medical treatment recommended by doctors.
Legal experts quoted by Fox News, though, said that Holmes likely would have found gaining sole custody to be a real challenge. Sole custody remains a rarity in divorces, these experts said, largely because the courts have an obligation to make decisions in the best interests of children. In most cases, courts rule that the children benefit the most from being raised by both parents.
A divorce attorney told Fox News that unless Holmes had been able to prove outrageous and dangerous behavior by Cruise, she would have struggled mightily to gain sole custody of her daughter. The attorney said that, after working on custody cases for more than forty years, he expected Holmes to lose her case.
Of course, this is all speculation now that the divorce settlement has been reached. It should be interesting, however, to see if more details emerge.
Stay tuned for updates from our Ft. Worth family law blog …
To learn more about traditional dissolution of marriage, child custody or property division, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.
This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
Fox News, “In seeking sole custody, does Katie Holmes need evidence Tom Cruise is dud dad?,” Hollie McKay, July 2, 2012