High-profile child custody case a lesson for Joliet divorcees

The high-profile divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes may be fodder for celebrity gossip websites, but there are some genuine issues involved that are similar to those faced by many Joliet couples going through a divorce. Perhaps the biggest issue to surface in the Cruise-Holmes divorce -was over child custody. While the details of the couple’s settlement remain private, the divorce has spurred discussion in legal circles about the custody struggle over their 6-year-old daughter.

Cruise and Holmes entered a speedy settlement less than two weeks after Holmes initially filed for divorce, which was notable considering the high assets involved. A prime issue at the outset was the venue Holmes used. She filed in New York, though the couple’s primary residence is believed to be in California. While the couple’s quick settlement avoided the need to litigate that matter, the choice of which state’s laws should apply was likely included in the settlement agreement should future disputes arise needing modification of the agreement.

In addition, the agreement likely specified the legal custody provisions for the couple’s daughter. Typically, physical custody is awarded to one parent who lives with the child the majority of the time, while legal custody is often shared with the non-custodial parent. Legal custody can be a vital issue, since it involves a parent’s right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing.

In the case of Holmes and Cruise, the legal custody determination may have been key to the parties’ agreement. Many have speculated that differences over the religious upbringing of the girl prompted the divorce filing in the first place. We can only presume that the couple’s agreement meets a threshold that reflects what they consider to be the best interests of the child and the parents’ rights.

Considering all the interests that need to be addressed, couples making agreements to settle legal custody should make sure their agreements are detailed, in writing and respectful of each parent’s rights and the child’s best interest.

Source: CBS News, “Settlement highlights Cruise-Holmes privacy wishes,” July 10, 2012

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High-profile child custody case a lesson for Joliet divorcees