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Holmes cruises away with nothing but child support

The Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise divorce saga only lasted 11 days but may offer some useful information and insight for our Tennessee readers just the same.

Early on, as you may recall, TMZ reported that Holmes stated that she didn't want anything from Cruise other than a divorce. TMZ is now reporting that "nothing" is exactly what she got -- no alimony, no lump sum property division payout ... not a dime for herself. Holmes will, however, receive $400,000 in child support a year to help care for the couple's now 6-year-old daughter.

Although both of these celebrities have annual incomes that would make most people blush, this settlement may seem tremendously unfair on the surface. After all, Cruise's net worth (an estimated $250 million) dwarfs that of Holmes. So why didn't Holmes get more?

The simplest answer is: she didn't want it. Couples are free to reach any type of agreement they want with respect to property division. The longer answer would have to include mention of the prenuptial agreement Holmes and Cruise reportedly signed prior to the marriage -- an agreement that sources say put Cruise's entire fortune off limits for purposes of property division.

What about spousal support? Holmes might have made an argument that she deserved alimony to maintain the "standard of living" she enjoyed during the marriage. However, spousal support one spouse with an ability to pay (Cruise has it) and one spouse with a need (it is doubtful Holmes could show "need" given her own assets and income).

Lastly, there's child support -- which isn't optional and which is based largely on the incomes of both spouses and the number of children to be supported. Even though Cruise will pay approximately $4.8 million in child support over the next 12 years (plus medical, dental, insurance, education, college and extracurricular expenses) -- that is far less than what a judge could have ordered given Cruise's income. Remember, however, that while couples can agree to resolve child custody and support issues outside of court, a judge may refuse to sign off on any agreement he or she feels does not serve the best interests of children.

Source: TMZ.com, "Tom Cruise Divorce Settlement with Katie Holmes," Aug. 24, 2012

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