That may also be the most convenient view of a relationship that even at its start spawned "Free Katie!" T-shirts. In 2005, the couple publically announced their relationship in Rome, famously celebrated it on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and got engaged on the Eiffel Tower in Paris. They were wed in Nov. 2006 at a castle in Bracciano, Italy.
Fields has said they were letting "the other side play the media until they wear everyone out." The Church of Scientology, too, didn't want to be portrayed as the schism between the couple.
The quick settlement and joint statement may put out some of that fire.
"I don't think either of these high-profile celebrities want their dirty laundry aired in technically a public forum," said Russell I. Marnell, an East Meadow, N.Y.-based divorce lawyer who's also licensed in California. "Those kind of factors certainly would lend themselves to try to encourage a resolution."
Cruise has two children with his previous wife, Nicole Kidman. The actor was also previously married to Mimi Rogers. This was Holmes' first marriage.
Their divorce case lasted less than two weeks, but Mindel said that's not uncommon for high-profile breakups: "There's too many incentives on both sides of the equation for settlement."
When actress-singer LeAnn Rimes' husband filed for divorce in December 2009, it only took a day before the couple filed a judgment. Actor-comedian Russell Brand's divorce from singer Katy Perry took a little over a month to resolve, while director Cameron Crowe and singer-guitarist Nancy Wilson resolved their 2010 divorce in less than three months.
Cruise and Holmes may have saved more than just their dignity by not fighting out their divorce in court. A drawn-out custody battle would have likely cost more than a million dollars in legal fees.
"What jumps out at me is how quickly they were able to resolve a multi-million dollar (financial case) and custody issues," likely to be particularly complicated for a couple whose work can take them all over the world, said Paul Talbert, a partner in a New York City matrimonial-law firm that isn't involved in the case.
Said Mindel: "The question's going to be did they have enough time to flesh out how they're going to resolve future disputes."
AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles and Jennifer Peltz in New York contributed to this report.