For once the ever poised and elegant Nicole Kidman found herself flummoxed. On Sun., Feb. 4, according to documents Kidman filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on May 2, Tom Cruise confronted her at their L.A. home and told her he wanted a divorce. Shocked, considering they had "happily celebrated" their 10th anniversary just weeks earlier and had been "intimate" since, Kidman "urged Cruise not to leave but to enter marriage counseling with her." Declaring his decision final, Cruise made his exit. End of discussion.

But not, by any means, the end of the drama. Three months after Cruise filed for divorce on Feb. 7, Kidman has only now drawn her battle lines. In her response papers, filed as she launched a high-profile publicity tour for her new movie Moulin Rouge, Kidman, 33, asserts that Cruise, 38, is indeed the father of the baby she miscarried in March. She also is seeking financial support through high school for their children Isabella, 8, and Connor, 6, and indicates she may seek sole legal custody of them if Cruise doesn't communicate directly with her. "The reality is that Tom won't speak to her," says a friend of Nicole's, who describes her response as "simple and clear. She wants her feelings to be understood."

And not just by her estranged husband. Cruise's Los Angeles-based lawyer, Dennis Wasser, expressed surprise at finding so much detailed information in Kidman's documents, since most divorce give-and-take is hashed out privately between attorneys. That those details were gobbled up by the international press the day after they were filed was not lost on some observers. "I have never in 19 years seen a [document] like that," says L.A. family law attorney Lynn Soodik, who represents Meg Ryan, among others. "The only reason for it would be to make a statement to Tom or to the public."

"Wasser insists Kidman has no need for concern and denies that Cruise has stopped talking to her. "Tom has been a gentleman throughout these proceedings," he says. "Nicole has always known exactly why the parties are divorcing. The children are his life, and he will always provide for them and their security." Furthermore, he adds, Cruise, whose fortune is pegged at upwards of $225 million—double Kidman's estimated worth—plans to split whatever "community property" they shared down the middle.

But money, agrees Kidman's friend, was not at the heart of her legal venting. "She was sick of sitting back and listening to everyone speculate about whose child [the miscarried baby] was and talking about what a great guy Tom is." The assertion that Kidman knows why they split, adds the friend, is particularly galling. Nicole, she says, still professes to have no idea what went wrong.

Despite their divorce fight, neither has shrunk from the public light. Cruise, who is shooting the Steven Spielberg thriller Minority Report in L.A., has been busy protecting his image. On May 2 he filed a $100 million lawsuit against porn actor Chad Slater, 33 (screen name: Kyle Bradford), for allegedly concocting a story that he'd had a gay relationship with Cruise. (Slater denies he said anything of the sort.) And Cruise has recently dropped by a few public events, including the Movieline Young Hollywood Awards at L.A.'s House of Blues, where he turned up unannounced on April 29 to present an award to Cameron Crowe (who directed him in Jerry Maguire and the upcoming Vanilla Sky). Says the event's publicist Jose Martinez: "He was in the best mood." Kidman seems upbeat, too, despite additional unwanted stress. On May 7, she sought a temporary restraining order from the L.A. Superior Court against local scriptwriter Matthew Hooker, 40, whom she alleges came to her home several times over the past month, offering to take her out on dates and tutor her kids.

Still, on a New York City visit to promote Moulin Rouge in April, she downed cosmopolitans with Russell Crowe, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick at a party for Broderick's hit Broadway show The Producers. On two other nights, Kidman sipped cocktails with pals at the club Lotus, where, reports a bartender, "she got a lot of attention. All the men were trying to talk to her."

They may have better luck down the road. "No matter what goes on in your life, you can still fall in love," a buoyant Kidman—who, following an appearance at the Cannes Film Festival, plans to make a promotional pit stop in Australia—told the Hollywood Foreign Press Association earlier this month. "I'm a romantic. I believe in destiny, and I believe there's a soulmate out there for every one of us."

Anne-Marie O'Neill
Michelle Caruso, Michael Fleeman, Julie Jordan, Elizabeth Leonard and Ulrica Wihlborg in Los Angeles and Bruce Stockier in New York City

  • Contributors:
  • Michelle Caruso,
  • Michael Fleeman,
  • Julie Jordan,
  • Elizabeth Leonard,
  • Ulrica Wihlborg,
  • Bruce Stockier.