Suri Cruise

Generous visiting rights ... Tom Cruise will be able to see his daughter regularly after he came to an agreement with Katie Holmes.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have reached a private settlement in their divorce case, avoiding a full blown court battle and detailed exposure of the actor's links to Scientology.

The remarkably swift deal, which both of them have signed, was concluded just 11 days after Holmes filed for divorce and followed marathon negotiations between two teams of lawyers over the weekend.

We want to keep matters affecting our family private, and express our respect for each other's commitment to each of our respective beliefs, and support each other's roles as parents 

Cruise is thought to have been especially keen to avoid a drawn-out court case that could have highlighted details about him and Scientology.

Split 11 days ago ... Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise.

Split 11 days ago ... Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. Photo: AP

The controversial church has repeatedly been cited as a reason for the couple's separation and has been the subject of torrent of bad publicity in the past fortnight.

It is understood their six-year-old daughter, Suri, will live primarily with Holmes, but that Cruise will have generous visiting rights and be a full part of the child's life.

Holmes, who was raised a Catholic, is thought to have secured her wish that Suri not be brought up in the Church of Scientology.

Happier days ... Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, pictured in April 2005.

Happier days ... Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, pictured in April 2005. Photo: AP

On one visit to her lawyers' offices in New York at the weekend, Holmes spent six hours discussing the deal, which also includes a property settlement.

Holmes is currently living in a three-bedroom apartment in New York with Suri, while Cruise is based primarily in Los Angeles with his two adopted children, Connor, 17, and Bella, 19.

In a joint statement, the couple said: "We are committed to working together as parents to accomplish what is in our daughter Suri's best interests.

All over ... Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise have come to a settlement.

All over ... Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise have come to a settlement. Photo: AP

"We want to keep matters affecting our family private, and express our respect for each other's commitment to each of our respective beliefs, and support each other's roles as parents."

The reference to "respective beliefs" appeared to confirm that Scientology, and its role in Suri's upbringing, was a key factor in the split.

Holmes filed for divorce on June 28 and Cruise was said to have been stunned. She also filed for sole custody of Suri with a court in New York.

Suri Cruise in New York with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, before their separation. Click for more photos

The cruisy life of Suri

Suri Cruise in New York with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, before their separation.

There had been suggestions Cruise would apply to have the case transferred to California where he would have a better chance of custody.

But, according to aides, he was said to be reluctant to "drag his family though the mud" and wanted a private settlement.

Aides indicated that he would never accept being cut out of the child's life completely, but would approve a deal if he was given "meaningful and significant" access to Suri.

Reached an agreement ... Katie Holmes leaves her lawyer's office in New York  on July 7.

Reached an agreement ... Katie Holmes leaves her lawyer's office in New York on July 7. Photo: AFP

That appears to have been achieved to Cruise's satisfaction. The actor, who is on location filming in the Rocky Mountains, has not seen his daughter since the divorce papers were filed but has spoken to her daily by telephone.

Holmes's lawyer, Jonathan Wolfe, said: "The case has been settled and the agreement has been signed. We are thrilled for Katie and her family and are excited to watch as she embarks on the next chapter of her life.

"We thank Tom's counsel for their professionalism and diligence that helped bring about this speedy resolution."

Cruise, 50, is Hollywood's highest earning actor, having made $US75 million in the past year, but the financial settlement is not expected to feature in lists of the most costly divorces.

Holmes, 33, signed a cast iron prenuptial agreement before the marriage five years ago, and has indicated she wants to "earn her own money" from her acting career.

Bert Fields, Cruise's lawyer, said last night: "Tom is really pleased we got there, and so am I."

The Daily Telegraph, London