Superstars' super quick divorce

13 July 2012

At the end of June, Katie Holmes filed for a divorce from her husband of 5 years, Tom Cruise.  Now, less than two weeks later, a settlement has been reached and a joint statement released confirming the pairs’ commitment to working together for the sake of their daughter, Suri.

Katie filed for divorce in New York, rather than California, because she understood that the courts there were more likely to award her sole custody of Suri.  Papers had reported that Tom Cruise, who wanted to fight for joint custody, intended to challenge jurisdiction in favour of California, a State more likely to grant this.

There is now speculation over whether the pre nuptial agreement apparently entered into when the couple married (restricting Katie's entitlement to $3million for each year of marriage plus the couples' Beverly Hills Mansion - totalling a fraction of Tom Cruise’s estimated $250million fortune) or Tom Cruise’s wish to keep details of his marriage and his practice of Scientology out of court, have prompted the speedy settlement.

The position regarding Suri would have been different had the couple lived in England as we do not have the same concept of 'custody' here.  English law recognises the fact that all parents (with some exceptions which are not discussed here) have parental responsibility in respect of their children, which automatically enables them to exercise a number of rights and responsibilities in relation to their children's upbringing.  As a consequence, the English Courts adopt a 'no Order' principle meaning that, if the arrangements for the children are agreed, no Order should be required in relation to, for example, where a child is to live or how much contact they are to have with their other parent.  It is only when parents are not able to agree arrangements that an Order might be required to regulate the position.

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