Katie Holmes recently filed for divorce from Tom Cruise, requesting sole residential custody of their six-year-old daughter Suri as well as child support. The couple is reported to have signed a prenuptial agreement, so it is likely that the larger decisions on how to divide assets have already been made.

There has been no indication yet from Mr. Cruise about how he will react to the child custody request. Ms. Holmes has released a statement saying that her first priority is to look out for Suri’s best interests.

The fact that Mr. Cruise’s other children have chosen to live with him despite a joint custody arrangement with his previous wife may work in his favor, since that could be evidence that he is an involved, responsible parent.

Cruise and Holmes’ parenting style has been the subject of significant discussion since they follow the teachings of The Church of Scientology which encourages parents to treat their children as adults who can make their own decisions. While this may sound like an empowering approach, children do not have fully developed brains and reasoning skills, so their decisions may not always be the best. For example, the six-year-old is notorious for wearing high heels and lipstick, which many parenting experts have criticized.

Suri’s young age means that how the parents choose to handle the discussion of the divorce and her exposure to media commentary will likely have a big impact on her. Child psychologists recommend that parents of young children be truthful and answer questions both during the divorce process and later on.

Source: The Daily Mail, “The battle for Suri: Katie ‘demands sole custody’ of the precocious little girl with $3m wardrobe’” Tamara Abraham, June 29, 2012.