The TomKat Divorce Strategy

July 12, 2012

Katie Holmes filed for divorce from Tom Cruise recently. 6/29/12 Reuters News 20:00:09. Despite having a primary residence in California, Holmes filed for divorce in New York, where they maintain another residence. News sources have reported several potential reasons for the choice of New York over California. An initial reason that was mentioned by the media early on was that New York may more likely to grant Holmes sole custody of their daughter, Suri. 2012 WLNR 13844588. Another reason mentioned was that New York divorce records are not public, while California’s are. 2012 WLNR 13796436. The choice of jurisdiction lead to media speculation that the divorce would be contentious, but Cruise and Holmes settled quickly, keeping the terms of the settlement private.

Going back to the speculation regarding child custody, I found an interesting article online talking about the differences between how joint custody works in California versus New York.  The article indicates that parents with joint custody in California have the ability to make decisions alone, presumably without the input of the other parent. In New York, parents must agree on important decisions.

Both New York and California have great secondary sources, so I decided to start there.

In New York Secondary Sources, I tried the following simple terms and connectors search:

“joint custody” & decision!

I get about 188 New York specific articles with this search. I used the filters to narrow to those in New York.

I noticed the following article, which has language to back up the statement that major life decisions regarding religion, medical care, and education are jointly made.

3 NY Fam Ct. Law & Prac § 16:28, “Custody–Joint Custody”

Then, I ran the same search in California Secondary Sources. The first result is an article from the California Practice Guide.

Cal. Prac. Guide Family L. Ch. 7-D, “Joint Custody”

Section 7:354 of that article quotes from West’s Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 3083 that “either parent acting alone may exercise legal control of the child.”