Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise divorce: Custody of Suri
Recently, the headline on all of the entertainment websites read “Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorcing.” As more information is released about their marriage and divorce, it is becoming apparent that Holmes and Cruise will be facing the same legal issues as the majority of divorcing couples in Georgia. One of the big questions is who will get custody of their six-year-old daughter, Suri.
It has been rumored that Katie Holmes is seeking sole legal and physical custody of Suri. Many people may be asking themselves “what is the difference between legal and physical custody?” Legal custody is basically decision making authority, while physical custody determines with which parent the children will reside on a full-time basis. OCGA §19-9-6. In many divorces in Georgia, the Husband and Wife are awarded joint legal custody of their children. With joint legal custody, both Husband and Wife must consult with one another before making major decisions regarding four major issues:
1. Education (Which school will the children attend? Will they go to private or public school?)
2. Religion (Which religion will be practiced in the house? Will the children regularly attend church?)
3. Extracurricular activities (In which extracurricular activities will the children be enrolled?)
4. Non-emergency healthcare (Who will be the children’s doctor or dentist?)
If the Husband and Wife cannot agree, either one of the parents (typically the parent who has physical custody of the children) will be the final decision maker on all issues relating to these areas. It is also not uncommon for the parents to split the final decision authority. For example, the Husband may receive final decision making authority regarding education and extracurricular activities and the Wife may receive final decision making authority regarding religion and non-emergency healthcare.
It is rumored Katie Holmes is seeking sole legal custody due to Tom Cruise’s involvement in Scientology. If Holmes is awarded sole legal custody of Suri, she will have control over which religion Suri will practice and which church she will attend. It will be interesting to see how this divorce plays out and who will be awarded custody.
By Amy Trice, Paralegal, Meriwether & Tharp, LLC