Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Divorce lessons from Cruise and Holmes

In Massachusetts and elsewhere, we do not always look to celebrities as our role models. However, the recent news of a divorce settlement agreement between Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise seems to indicate that they, and their attorneys, did something that we all could learn from.

They found a way to work out an agreement without a protracted court battle. They may have found a way to put their daughter's interest ahead of their own. Any future disputes are likely to be handled through mediation rather than litigation. How did that happen?

According to multiple news sources, one of the reasons that the results came so quickly was because of the court jurisdiction. Holmes filed for divorce in New York, a state which tends to prefer granting primary child custody to one parent. It was reported that Holmes' key goal was to have sole custody of the couple's daughter.

Another reason the couple may have resolved their divorce quickly was due to the desire for privacy. In New York, as in many other states, the proceedings are sealed. Their settlement is private and so, as a practical matter, the only way the public will know about the child custody arrangements may be by who is more often seen with the couple's daughter.

Should the couple run into any difficulties in the future related to visitation, child support or other issues, their divorce settlement agreement was speculated to require them to go to mediation or appear before a private judge rather that battle it out in court and in public. That appears to suit both Holmes and Cruise.

Divorce is never easy and is rarely described as being any fun. However, skilled legal representation can resolve issues more quickly and in a way that both parties may find acceptable. That is apparently what happened in this case and both sides can be commended for that accomplishment.

Source:, "Settlement highlights Cruise-Holmes privacy wishes," July 10, 2012

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