KATIE HOLMES, TOM CRUISE AND DIVORCE:
DO QUICK SETTLEMENTS MAKE HAPPY POST-DIVORCE FAMILIES?
WHAT MAKES A DIVORCE “EASY?”
What does it take to make a divorce and its attendant issues including spousal maintenance, child support, and child custody and Parenting time and property division “easy” when compared with some that are not “easy?”
Even where a divorce is “easy” from the point of view of the lawyers, it isn’t easy to the family. But, if you settle your case quickly, there is no doubt that you will have more time to focus on the bigger issues of family transition.
It cannot be disputed that the Cruise/Holmes divorce was settled quickly. But they had some huge advantages over other divorcing couples.
DIVORCE PLANNING BY PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT
First, they started planning for a divorce before the marriage in the form of a pre-nuptial agreement that resolved issues relating to property and support. Most of us don’t have prenuptial agreements, but this was Tom Cruise’s third marriage and there was a large age difference between Tom and Katie. From an estate planning perspective, the pre-nuptial agreement was essential, but if you are on your third marriage, you probably also want to engage in some divorce planning, as well.
DIVORCE, TIMING AND CHILD CUSTODY
As a corollary to planning, timing also played a huge role in making it possible for their settlement negotiations to conclude quickly. Katie waited until Tom left for an extended film shoot to stake her claim for independence. Tom wasn’t faced with imminent denial of
parenting rights (although it is likely that he felt he was deprived of some parenting access in the early days), and this meant that parenting issues could be resolved without allegations of parental kidnapping or alienation, despite the fact that custody issues clearly played a big part in Katie’s decision to leave the marriage.
DIVORCE AND WEALTH MANAGEMENT
Next, it cannot be disputed that Tom and Katie’s divorce negotiations were shaped by their relative wealth and economic status. Sometimes, money makes things more difficult, but in this case, both parties had sufficient access to the resources necessary to establish themselves in a new household that functioned independently from the marital home.
DIVORCE, ALIMONY, CHILD CUSTODY, CHILD SUPPORT AND SKILLED ATTORNEYS
Perhaps most important, Katie and Tom had good lawyers and good legal advisors. It has been reported that Katie Holmes’ father, a feared divorce attorney, played an important role in shaping her legal strategy. In the early days, it looked like it could be ugly, as Katie made a claim for sole legal and sole physical custody, and the media machine kept the case (and the question of the legitimacy of Mr. Cruise’s religious beliefs) in the news. However, even though this strategy is what is important, what made it work were the behind-the-scenes negotiations that also occurred.
DIVORCE AND THE ADVANTAGES OF PRIVACY
We won’t know what those negotiations entailed, because the final piece of this puzzle is that both parties were willing to keep the details of the negotiations and the settlement private. Privacy is a commodity that the rest of us don’t always value in the same way. However, Tom Cruise has consistently understood that his income is directly tied to his “brand”. An ugly divorce could have tarnished his “brand,” probably more than it would have hurt Katie’s earning potential.
CRITERIA FOR A “GOOD” DIVORCE
In summary, good planning, good timing, equal access to sufficient resources, good legal advice and discretion made this divorce end
quickly. For more information, please see http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/07/10/experts-katie-holmes-media-strategy-plus-prenup-probably-behind-tomkat-quickie/