Today when a married couple with a child divorces, it is less and less common for one of the parents to obtain sole child custody. Sole child custody is generally not awarded unless the parent that wants sole custody demonstrates that the other parent is unfit and the other parent's custody of the child would not be in the child's best interest. The standard is therefore relatively high.
Over the last few days the news media has run plenty of stories on Katie Holmes' decision to file for divorce from Tom Cruise and Holmes' desire to gain sole custody of their child Suri. The Holmes and Cruise divorce may be a demonstration in how difficult the obtainment of sole child custody can be even when both parents have strong opposing beliefs regarding religion and how their child should be raised.
According to news reports, Tom Cruise's deep devotion to the Church of Scientology and its beliefs is the major reason for the divorce. The difference in religious preferences between Cruise and Holmes may also be the reason why Holmes is seeking sole custody.
Legal experts following the story say Tom Cruise's deep religious beliefs could be held against him not because the law is biased against Scientology but because a strict following of the teachings are against medication, psychiatry and psychology. However, the religious beliefs would only be an issue if it is shown that Cruise's beliefs would interfere with the best interests of Suri. Since courts generally prefer joint custody over sole custody, Kate would have to provide a strong showing that it would not be in the best interest for the child to be with both parents.
In an amicable divorce, child custody is less of an issue because both parents would likely agree to joint custody, and both parents would therefore have the right to make important child-rearing decisions. If a divorce is not amicable, the decision is placed in the hands of the court. An experienced child custody attorney can help a divorcing parent with his or her custody issue.
Source: foxnews.com, "In Seeking Child Custody, Does Katie Holmes Need Evidence Tom Cruise is Dud Dad?" Hollie McKay, July 2, 2012