Tom and Katie: Values in divorce

I’m not much for the gossip columns or celebrity news, but as a professional who specializes in divorce, there was one article that caught my eye recently, entitled something like “Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes settle divorce, and Katie gets no spousal support.”

Here’s a quote from the article: “As for the final divorce settlement … sadly for ladies and fans of Holmes, Katie did not fare too well.”

My gut reaction upon reading this sentence was to imagine asking the author, “How do you know the private feelings and needs of someone you have probably never met or spoken to?” And, “Who are you to judge?”

The article sets out the following information:

• “Holmes will only get child support from Cruise, totaling $33,333.33 a month, according to celebrity gossip source, TMZ. This amount is to be paid for the daughter’s welfare till daughter is 18…”

• “Holmes cannot get one dime out of Tom Cruise’s $250-million fortune.”

• “Their daughter cannot attend boarding school, or any school that has anything to do with Scientology.”

Is this result really sad for ladies and unfortunate for Holmes? Or, is it possible that Holmes is satisfied with the agreements? Consider the following:

• Cruise will be paying $400,000 a year for the next 12 years or so for expenses when Suri is with her mother. Additionally, he will pay a good portion of Suri’s educational, health, and other expenses. Suri will be well provided for.

• In barely dealing with the courts, Cruise and Holmes avoided a toxic battle between themselves and over Suri. The process was very quick. Emotionally, they are all winners as far as divorces go.

• There are indications that Holmes wanted to limit their daughter’s exposure to Scientology. If so, she accomplished this goal.

• Perhaps Holmes doesn’t want anything from her ex. Many women don’t. (Caution: a hasty decision based on such feelings may lead to later regrets). A Google search reveals that Holmes has a net worth of $25 million — not that I can vouch for the accuracy of this amount. Regardless, she has resources, and appears to have a high-earning potential in the future.

Different people have different values. In fact, when spouses have different values, it may be easier for both to get their respective needs met. Think of a house that is marital property. If one wants to keep it and the other spouse wants to “start fresh” someplace else, reaching a deal on the house is often possible.

If Holmes values money and only money, she is probably disappointed in her settlement. But let’s say that she values freedom and independence; privacy; the ability to help determine Suri’s educational upbringing; her own emotional well-being and that of her daughter, and maybe Cruise’s well-being as well; being able to move on with her life without bitter and lengthy court proceedings before her; and enough money to provide for Suri in the manner that Suri has been accustomed to.

If so, is Holmes disappointed? Or did she get exactly, or close to, what she was looking for?

Who could argue here that mother and daughter are not financially secure?

Whether Holmes and Cruise made the choices you or I would have made is unimportant. What matters is if they were able to reach agreements that reflect their own values, and whether the agreements provide for Suri’s welfare. I would like to think that the couple’s agreements did so.

If this is the case, Katie fared very well indeed.

As a mediator and collaborative divorce lawyer, I work with couples, assisting them to better understand what they and their children need — and how these needs may be met. The goal is the same whether the couple is rich like Holmes and Cruise, or, like most of us, just managing: to facilitate a fair, affordable agreement that both parties can live with.

Here, with so much at stake, the parties chose a fast, mutually respectful way to dissolve their marriage, out of court.

New York City and Long Island-based divorce mediator and collaborative divorce lawyer Lee Chabin, Esq, helps clients end their relationships respectfully and without going to court. Contact him at lee_chabin@lc-mediate.com, (718) 229–6149, or go to lc-mediate.com/home.

Disclaimer: All material in this column is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Discussing your particular case and circumstances with a legal professional before making important decisions is strongly encouraged to safeguard your rights.