The custody and welfare of 6-year-old Suri Cruise is expected to highlight the divorce of Tom Cruise and his estranged wife, actress Katie Holmes. Holmes recently filed for divorce from the superstar movie actor in New York, where some experts say Holmes will have a better chance to obtain sole custody of the couple’s daughter.

Legal advisors on both coasts are weighing the pros and cons of Holmes’ New York divorce petition and child custody request. The filing reportedly came as a surprise to Cruise, who has been married to Holmes five years.

Holmes wants New York to be Suri’s primary home. Observers say the “Dawson’s Creek” actress likely has been laying groundwork for state residency over the last six months.

Reports say Holmes disapproved of Cruise’s close connection to the Church of Scientology.

Matrimonial lawyers say Cruise’s strong beliefs may be the reason the actress wants full child custody. Scientologist practices often reject traditional medicines and mental health treatments, which Holmes and a court may interpret as detrimental to the welfare of the couple’s daughter.

Legal experts agree that Holmes’ choice to battle for sole custody won’t be taken lightly by Suri’s father.

A former chairman of the California State Bar thinks the actress might have a difficult time trying to produce evidence that Cruise is not a fit parent. Family law judges prefer that parents share custody because, in most cases, the arrangement satisfies a child’s best interests.

Some analysts think Holmes chose to file for divorce in New York because family courts there are more prone to granting sole custody than judges in California. Cruise could counter the move by filing to have the divorce moved to the couple’s home state on the West Coast.

Most New York couples are not affected by bicoastal divorce actions. Many are concerned about child custody arrangements, though. Family law judges in all states focus custody decisions around what is good for a child, whether or not that agrees with what parents believe.

Source:, “In seeking sole custody, does Katie Holmes need evidence Tom Cruise is dud dad?” Hollie McKay, July 2, 2012