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Katie Holmes files for divorce from actor Tom Cruise

By Harriet Ryan and John Horn, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — The marriage of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, one of Hollywood’s highest profile relationships and a subject of endless tabloid speculation, is over.

Holmes announced through a lawyer Friday that she had filed for divorce from her movie star husband of five years. The news surprised the entertainment industry, which counts Cruise as one of its most recognizable stars, and apparently the actor himself. Cruise learned Holmes had initiated divorced proceedings in New York while he was working on a film set in Iceland.

(PHOTO: Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise attend the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar party held at the Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood, California on February 26, 2012. Tom Cruise is “very sad” after wife Katie Holmes hired a divorce attorney, his spokesman said Friday, June 29, 2012. )

“Tom is deeply saddened and is concentrating on his three children. Please allow them their privacy to work this out,” his publicist said in a statement.

He has not yet hired a divorce attorney, said his longtime legal representative, Bert Fields.

Holmes has retained two prominent law firms that specialize in wealthy break-ups. New York lawyer Allan E. Mayefsky has been involved in a number of acrimonious and headline-grabbing splits, including the divorces of model Christie Brinkley, TV anchor Joan Lunden and a Manhattan financier who was ordered to pay his ex-wife $44 million.

In addition, the “Dawson’s Creek” actress hired a New Jersey divorce lawyer, Jonathan Wolfe, whose website boasts of his prowess in “complex matrimonial matters” involving “leaders or the spouses of leaders” in business, entertainment and sports. He has written extensively about prenuptial agreements and ways to recover hidden assets in divorce proceedings.

In a statement, Wolfe called the divorce “a personal and private matter.”

“Katie’s primary concern remains, as it has always been, her daughter’s best interest,” the lawyer said, referring to the couple’s daughter, Suri, 6.

Cruise has long been a controversial figure for his statements about psychiatry and his membership in the Church of Scientology, but it was his whirlwind romance with the actress 16 years his junior that garnered the most attention.

Their first date was a sushi dinner on his private jet, he proposed underneath the Eiffel Tower, and they were married in a star-studded ceremony in an Italian castle. He infamously jumped on Oprah Winfrey’s studio coach while professing his new love for Holmes.

Speculation about a prenuptial agreement began almost immediately after the couple’s engagement. Cruise already had two ex-wives in Hollywood — the actresses Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman, with whom he adopted two children. His annual earnings — recently estimated by Forbes at $75 million — dwarfed those of his young bride, whose father is a lawyer.

Asked whether there was a prenuptial agreement, Fields said, “I can’t comment on that. It will all come out.”

Bernard Clair, a Manhattan divorce lawyer with many wealthy clients, said judges generally order divorcing couples to abide by the terms of their prenuptial agreements when it comes to finances. But the court often modifies provisions governing child support and custody, potential issues in the Cruise-Holmes break-up.

“These provisions relating to custody are almost always viewed as statements of intent and aspiration as opposed to enforceable and binding provisions,” Clair said.

The decision to file in New York rather than California might have been one of convenience — Holmes and the couple’s daughter are currently living in New York — but it also might reflect a desire for privacy.

“My guess is that she brought it in New York because files are sealed,” said Manhattan attorney Raoul Felder, a veteran of high-profile divorce cases. “If it was in California, it’s all public and you can walk into the clerk’s office and get the papers.”

In spite of the legal forces being marshaled by Holmes, Fields said, “I would hope that it’s not a contentious matter. I know Tom is not a particularly contentious person.”

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