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Privacy may have prompted Katie Holmes's NY divorce filing

Divorces among celebrities seem more frequent and contentious, or at least more publicized, than break ups for couples not in the spotlight. One advantage most divorcing Michigan couples have -- that celebrities don't -- is privacy.

Word has spread that action star Tom Cruise is getting a divorce. Cruise's wife, actress Katie Holmes, recently filed a divorce petition in New York, even though the couple's marital home was in California.

Legal observers say it is likely that privacy drove Holmes to make that choice. The couple's home state of California does not seal divorce filings, which would place the petition's contents within easy reach of public. Holmes and the couple's 6-year-old daughter, Suri, recently became residents of New York where divorce papers are kept private and sealed.

Another highly publicized matter in this divorce has been the potential existence of a prenuptial arrangement in the couple's marriage. Cruise was twice married before marrying Katie Holmes over five years ago, and many speculate that Holmes and Cruise do, in fact, have a prenup in place. Without this agreement, Cruise would stand to lose a lot. The actor's annual salary was recently estimated by Forbes to be $75 million, which is much greater than that of Holmes.

Legal observers say a prenuptial agreement could exclude Holmes from an equal split of Cruise's fortune. Child custody and support issues for Suri are likely to be determined separately by the courts, according to divorce law specialists.

Cruise's divorce terms may be kept out of the public eye, but that hasn't been the case for other celebrities, like former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger's divorce from Maria Shriver was detailed in headlines regularly, despite the couple's request for privacy, because they filed for divorce in California.

Still, Schwarzenegger and Cruise are like most not-so-famous spouses undergoing divorce. The matters of a break up are personal and sometimes painful. Despite other people's curiosity regarding the details of a split, it is ultimately between the divorcing spouses. Exposing the confidential information of a marriage can cause spouses and their children more distress than necessary.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise divorce: Sealed files may protect privacy," July 2, 2012

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