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Officially divorced: Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise

Florida residents, and everyone else in the country, followed the Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise split closely. Last week a New York judge finalized their divorce.

Notable in this case is that the couple succeeded in keeping the terms of their settlement largely private. Holmes has primary custody, with visitation rights for Cruise, but other than that detail very little is known about the division of their assets and other matters that must have been relevant for such a high-profile couple.

Divorce can be stressful and sad for anyone who endures it. High asset divorces, because of the amount and value of property to be divided, can go on for years as couples dispute disclosure and valuation of assets.

High-profile couples can find it challenging to work through a dissolution of marriage without putting themselves under a public microscope.

In Florida, the standard for evaluating property division in divorce is equitable distribution. This means that asset division is not required to be absolutely equal. Instead the focus is on fairness and couples are encouraged to consider all related factors in working on a settlement.

In the even that both parties are able to agree on how their marital property should be divided, a court will simply ratify the settlement. The settlement then becomes part of the final dissolution order. This is what happened in the Holmes-Cruise divorce.

However, if a couple cannot agree on equitable division a court will have to impose it.

Couples involved in high asset divorces have a better chance of keeping their split out of the spotlight if they can agree on property division. A fight in court, for many high-profile couples, also means a fight in public.

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Are Officially Divorced," Natalie Abrams, Aug. 21, 2012

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