While last year's nuptials between Kate Middleton and Prince William may have been the wedding of the century, the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes divorce may prove to be the divorce of the century. Holmes's divorce filing in June shocked the American public and spurred an onslaught of media coverage. Reports focused on how Holmes orchestrated the surprise filing. Using tactics straight out of Mission Impossible, Holmes used disposable cell phones, consulted with her divorce lawyer/father in China, and coordinated lawyers in three states before she filed for divorce in New York. The strategy worked. Cruise's lawyers hammered out a settlement agreement less than two weeks after the divorce filing.
Beyond a fascination with Katie Holmes's tactics, the divorce merits attention for another reason -- its ordinariness. Scientology aside, the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes split is unfortunately a completely ordinary affair. An allegedly controlling husband made his wife miserable and motivated her to act for the sake of her child. If the media reports of Cruise's behavior are to be believed, Holmes displayed a tremendous amount of strength and courage. She also had the resources to channel her strength into action.
As the economy continues to exert pressure on families, Holmes was lucky that she had the familial and financial resources to leave a controlling marriage. Not all parents can afford to leave an unhealthy marriage, even if it is in the best interest of their child. At the height of the recession, divorce filings were down because couples couldn't afford it. In bad economic times, domestic violence increases and studies show that over half of the women on welfare are domestic violence survivors. While the presidential candidates fight over balancing budgets and entitlement programs, it's critical to remember the human dimensions of budget cuts. Divorce shouldn't be a luxury. May all women be as lucky as Katie Holmes.