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TomKat Divorce May Set Stage for NY vs. CA Venue Fight

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on July 02, 2012 4:01 PM

The Katie Holmes/Tom Cruise divorce is moving forward, as both actors lawyer up ahead of what could be a dramatic court saga. One of the first issues will likely be: Where will the divorce case take place?

As a couple, TomKat lived at a home in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times reports. But Katie Holmes filed for divorce in New York last week, when Tom Cruise was busy at a film shoot in Iceland, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

So can a New York divorce court even hear their case? It depends on whether the couple meets New York’s residency requirements.

According to state law, a couple must satisfy one of the following residency requirements to get divorced in New York:

  • Two years of continuous residency in New York by one spouse;
  • One year of continuous residency in New York by one spouse, if the couple got married in New York or if they lived in New York at any time as married persons;
  • One year of continuous residency in New York by one spouse, if the grounds for divorce occurred in New York; or
  • Both spouses are New York residents (it doesn't matter how long) and the grounds for divorce occurred in New York.

In Katie Holmes' divorce filing, she is believed to have "secretly rented an NYC apartment of her own just prior to filing for divorce," Us Weekly reports. Holmes' divorce papers supposedly state both she and Cruise have been New York residents "at least 2 years," gossip website TMZ reports.

Other reports, however, suggest Tom Cruise may seek to move the divorce case to California. The Golden State's residency rules require:

  • Six months of continuous residency in California by one spouse, and
  • Three months of continuous residency in the California county where the divorce will take place.

Tom Cruise has reportedly hired the same lawyer he used in his divorce from actress Nicole Kidman in 2001, while Katie Holmes is also getting a legal team in place. That includes advice from Katie's dad Martin Holmes, who works as an attorney in Ohio.

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