Cruise, Holmes agree split, vow to 'respect beliefs'

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LOS ANGELES, July 9, 2012 (AFP) – Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have reached a “private” settlement less than two weeks after she announced their bombshell divorce — and vowed Monday to honor each other’s beliefs over their daughter.

The Hollywood pair issued a joint statement pledging to act in the “best interests” of six-year-old Suri, and to take account of their “respective beliefs” in her upbringing — an apparent reference to Scientology.

The announcement heads off what some had expected could be acrimonious haggling over the divorce, amid reports Holmes was concerned about the role of the Church of Scientology in their daughter’s life.

“The case has been settled and the agreement has been signed. We are thrilled for Katie and her family and are excited to watch as she embarks on the next chapter of her life,” her lawyer Jonathan Wolfe said.

No details of the settlement terms were given, but Holmes and Cruise’s joint statement said: “We are committed to working together as parents to accomplish what is in our daughter Suri’s best interests.

“We want to keep matters affecting our family private and express our respect for each other’s commitment to each of our respective beliefs and support each other’s roles as parents,” they added.

Asked about the terms of the settlement, Cruise’s publicist Amanda Lundberg reiterated: “They are private.”

Holmes announced on June 29 that she was filing for divorce to end the star couple’s five-year-old marriage, apparently taking Cruise by surprise — he said he was “deeply saddened” by the announcement.

Speculation over the cause of the split has focused on Holmes’ reported concern that Cruise wanted their daughter to be immersed more deeply in the Church of Scientology, of which he is a prominent member.

Holmes was raised as a Catholic, but joined Cruise’s Scientology religion after their whirlwind romance and wedding in a storybook Italian castle in November 2006.

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She has been expected to face a family court judge on July 17 in New York, where she filed her divorce petition, according to media reports. It is unclear if that hearing will go ahead, after the settlement.

Lawyers for both Cruise — who celebrated his 50th birthday last Tuesday — and 33-year-old Holmes were thought to have been negotiating through the weekend to reach the deal.

“We thank Tom’s counsel for their professionalism and diligence that helped bring about this speedy resolution,” said the statement by Holmes’ lawyer Wolfe.

Financial details of the settlement will likely remain secret.

In the 26 years since he made his name in the first “Top Gun” movie in 1986, Cruise has established himself as one of the most powerful and bankable players in Hollywood.

That was confirmed again last week when the latest Forbes list of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors put the “Mission Impossible” star firmly at the top, with earnings of $75 million between May 2011 and May 2012.

Following Holmes’ divorce announcement, reports suggested that the actress was seeking sole custody because she fears Cruise wants to draw the child deeper into Scientology.

A lawyer for the Church of Scientology denied last week sending anyone to follow Holmes, or that Cruise wanted Suri to join the Sea Organization, described as a boot camp for the religion.

The divorce is the third for Cruise, following his marriage to US actress Mimi Rogers from 1987-1990 and Australian Nicole Kidman from 1990-2001. He also had a three-year relationship with Spanish star Penelope Cruz.