SAN DIEGO – August 11, 2012 – Much to the dismay of the tabloids and TMZ.com, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes announced they had reached a private divorce settlement, barely ten days after the news of their split became public.
Holmes’ attorney Jonathan Wolfe told TMZ, “This case has been settled and the agreement has been signed. We are thrilled for Katie and her family and are excited to watch as she embarks on the next chapter of her life.”
At the time Wolfe also thanked Tom and his legal counsel “for their professionalism and diligence that helped bring about this speedy resolution.”
Numerous reports out are putting two and two together from magazine interviews Katie Holmes conducted in the days and weeks leading up to the announcement of the divorce, which have all just started hitting the newsstands. It’s clear now careful planning went into Holmes’ decision and eventual filing. Holmes kept quiet and said nothing about Cruise or her marriage, but focused in the interviews on her future career aspirations and her life as a mother and woman now that she is in her thirties.
Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise did something not enough divorcing parents do: they put their child first. For this alone, I nominate them as Parents of the Year for 2012. I’m serious.
I’m impressed that Holmes was able to keep her mouth shut, especially if she was feeling controlled and was concerned about her daughter, as has been speculated. Cruise hasn’t responded to many accusations about odd religious practices or lurid rumors about his personal life. So far, both of them have resisted any urge to talk trash about each other.
In any divorce, children are the true victims. With kids whose parents are divorcing, particularly in the public eye – and particularly if there is any “dirt” that might come out about infidelities, religious differences due to the couple’s previously publicized practice of Scientology, or other unsavory issues, enormous damage can be done that lasts far beyond the actual time period when the divorce is taking place.
Suri Cruise is young now, but she will grow up and have questions about what happened to her famous parents. When a divorce is hashed out in court, there are public documents. Nothing prevents Suri Cruise from reading those documents years later, and learning all kinds of hateful, unsavory things about her parents. No matter how the two of them feel about each other, Holmes and Cruise will always be Suri’s mom and dad. She does not need to be exposed to any of this.
With this kind of visibility and their personal reputations at stake, to say nothing of the money involved, it couldn’t have been easy. But bravo and my compliments to Holmes and Cruise and their attorneys for doing whatever it took to keep their private lives private and avoid a long, expensive, damaging divorce. Suri Cruise’s needs came before their own.
This teaches other divorcing parents an important lesson. If Tom and Katie can do it, you can do it. Despite the conflicts between you that led to a divorce, coming to an agreement outside the court system is best for everyone involved. Collaborative divorce, private mediation, or confidential judicial arbitration are all good options and absolutely the way to go. This allows you to handle your legal issues as swiftly as possible with less cost and emotional anguish.
I urge clients not to sweat the small stuff, make it as quick and clean as possible. I give this advice to most of my clients, as long as there is no abuse or dangerous behavior involved in the marriage.
Whether or not you are a celebrity, everyone going through a divorce hurts. Everyone has the same fears. Everyone worries about being treated fairly. But if you put your children first, and attend to their long term needs first, things will fall into place for you as well. From there, you can see yourself and your family through to a healthier, happier future. Even if you’re Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise.
Myra Chack Fleischer serves as Lead Counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby in Carlsbad, California with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in Communities Digital News. Follow Myra on Twitter: @LawyerMyra.
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