Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

How did Katie Holmes ‘cruise’ through the divorce process?

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise were married in 2006 and here we sit, just shy of six years later, and they are already divorced. I have been a New Jersey Divorce and Family Law attorney for nearly 20 years and several aspects of the case are very interesting to examine. As we say goodbye to TomKat, I share the case with you framed by the questions commonly asked by my clients.

“How quickly can I get divorced in New Jersey?”
Here in New Jersey, great preparation, staying motivated to complete the divorce process and working closely with your attorney will speed up your divorce process. I speak from experience when I state that the TomKat divorce was quick. Katie filed for divorce and eleven days later a settlement was reached with all documents finalized during the week of August 20th. Several factors can influence how quickly your divorce proceeds, and here the timetable does suggest (as well as some reports) that there was meticulous preparation by Katie before the process began. She clearly surrounded herself with the right professionals, was organized from the start, and was highly motivated to move quickly. She had secured a residence for herself in NYC, had put staff in place to protect and offer support, and was clear in her intent of obtaining legal custody and child support. Adding to the speed was that the divorce was filed in New York where documents are signed in an attorney’s office and an appearance in court is not required. One note, in New York you do not need to appear in front of a judge to finalize your divorce. Here in New Jersey your divorce must formally come before a judge requiring a court date adding some time to the process.

“Where do I file my divorce?”
Here is New Jersey, your divorce is filed in the Superior Court of the county in which you reside.
It was surprising that Katie and Tom, two Hollywood stars, did not divorce in California since that seemed to be where they resided. However, this was a brilliant part of Katie’s strategy. Katie established residency in downtown Manhattan and therefore was allowed to file for divorce in New York State. This was beneficial to her case since her primary goal was to obtain full legal custody of the couple’s only child, Suri. When parents divorce in California, more often than not the courts are likely to grant shared legal custody. However, New York seems to have more leniency in granting sole custody, especially when one parent lives far away. Additionally, in New York you do not need to appear in court if the divorce is uncontested, thus saving time by not having to wait for a court date.

“I have a prenuptial agreement, can I contest it in New Jersey?”
Adding to the speed was the existence of what was considered an airtight prenuptial agreement. Since many of the divorce details were wrapped up in the pre-nup, time did not have to spent negotiating details like alimony. Additionally, the prenup was not contested. In some cases, when there has been a substantial change of financial circumstances since the prenup was written, there could be reasons for renegotiation and even court intervention. But, Katie chose not to contest the prenuptial agreement and walked away without alimony. This is an interesting move given Tom’s significant wealth, but with the marriage only 6 years old, contesting may have been futile.

But don’t worry about Katie’s standard of living suffering. With her work on Broadway and a clothing line about to debut, at NYC fashion week no less, I am certain she will be able to maintain a nice lifestyle. Katie also will keep all of the gifts including designer duds, jewelry, and accessories that Cruise gave to her over the course of the marriage.

“How much will I pay in child support?”
Well Tom Cruise, you will pay, a lot. Suri Cruise is only six years old, leaving 12 full years of support ahead of her. The agreement reach states that Tom will pay Katie $33,333 per month for the next twelve years, a total of $4.8 million dollars. Additionally, Tom will pay all of Suri’s medical, insurance and educational expenses. Again, given Tom’s substantial wealth, there may have been a chance Katie could have received more in child support. However, having her day in court would have prolonged the process.

Examining a celebrity divorce can be very informative. But it is important to remember that no matter how big the star may shine, the process of divorce is going to be painful. Untangling a life built with another person can be a long grueling process. Having a skilled New Jersey divorce and family attorney by your side can certainly make the process easier and a little less painful. The staff in our office is ready to help you so please call for a free consultation, (732) 246-0909.