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Tom Cruise confronts third divorce; will it be risky business?

When their impending divorce was made public, it was not revealed whether or not Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have a prenuptial agreement. Regardless, Holmes, a movie star in her own right, filed divorce papers seeking sole custody of the couple's 6-year-old daughter, according to an announcement released late last month.

Some believe the legal move is a strong indication the two are not in accord concerning custody and visitation issues, potentially setting the stage for a heated, and likely very public, dispute should any disagreements persist.

This will be Cruise's third divorce, while it is a first for Holmes. While most observers strongly believe a prenuptial agreement exists, such a pact might not do enough to forestall child custody litigation should the parties be so inclined. When parents in Colorado or elsewhere cannot agree about custody and visitation of minor children, those issues are typically left to a court to decide based on the best interests of the children.

Holmes filed her divorce petition in New York, which was viewed as a strategic move. First, New York is considered a jurisdiction where judges are seen as having more discretion when it comes to the reasons for the end of a marriage as well as disputes concerning child custody. The filing may also simply be an indication that Holmes wishes to live in New York with her daughter, though the dissolution will be watched by movie fans in Colorado and around the globe to see what effect the split has on the careers of both actors.

Many observers believe Cruise will seek to protect his public image, which could very well be impacted by a publicized marital dissolution.

It remains to be seen if the couple truly disagrees over child custody issues and how the matter will ultimately be resolved. As is typical of a divorce between high profile people, confidentiality clauses -- either in a prenuptial agreement or as part of a divorce settlement -- may limit how much of their settlement will be revealed to the general public. Like any other couple seeking divorce, Cruise and Holmes may have a vested interest in securing their family's privacy and interests during this process.

Source: USA Today, "TomKat divorce could be legal mess, especially when it comes to Suri," Maria Puente and Andrea Mandell, June 29, 2012

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