When Katie Holmes recently filed for divorce from Tom Cruise, she also filed for sole legal custody and primary physical custody of her 6-year-old daughter, Suri. Unless she is merely posturing for financial gain, this means that she is prepared to prove in court that Cruise is unable to parent effectively and might place his daughter at risk.
As a forensic psychiatrist, I have evaluated many men and women whose spouses have filed for similar exclusive rights. In each and every case, they alleged that their wives or husbands had a pattern of erratic emotions or behavior or beliefs that would predictably and severely impact their children in negative ways.
Because Tom Cruise is reportedly a high-ranking member of the Church of Scientology, and because the church is so controversial, the dictates of Scientology on child rearing may come center stage. Holmes may well contend that Scientology’s customs or edicts about how and what to teach children are themselves harmful, abusive or a reflection of underlying mental illness in adherents.
If so, the divorce proceedings may pit one or more psychiatrists against Mr. Cruise, because such experts are traditionally the ones required to substantiate that an individual is unable to reasonably exercise parental rights. And since the Church of Scientology is very hostile to psychiatrists—believing they are corrupt and abusive—friction between the profession and the church could skyrocket during the proceedings
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