Why Katie Holmes Needed to Beat Tom Cruise to the Courthouse

Posted on Jul 9, 2012 by Hofheimer Family Law

Katie Holmes rushed to the courthouse in Manhattan to file for divorce while Tom Cruise was away filming his newest movie. Why did she have to plan to act so quickly when she did? Child custody of Suri Cruise is the issue behind the legal maneuver.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have marital residences in both New York and California. Both New York and California potentiallly have jurisdiction to grant the Cruise/Holmes divorce. However, because Katie Holmes was seeking sole custody of Suri, she needed to file in New York before Tom filed in California. Why? Because California law has a presumption of joint physical custody of children. If Tom and Katie are unable to reach an agreement, then Katie has a much better chance of getting sole custody in New York, where the court has more discretion to determine what is in the best interest of Suri, rather than California, where Katie would have to disprove the court’s starting position that joint custody is in Suri’s best interest. Tom knows this, having divorced Nicole Kidman in California, where he received joint custody of the Cruise/Kidman children.

It looks from their joint statement released today that TomKat may have reached an agreement, or at least committed to resolve things outside of court (perhaps with a Collaborative Divorce), which will likely protect Suri from a difficult custody battle and media circus. Hopefully they will be able to agree on something that best serves Suri.