In Cruise's corner: Los Angeles divorce attorney Dennis Wasser, who previously represented Cruise in his 2001 divorce from Nicole Kidman, and veteran entertainment litigator Bert Fields, who has also represented Cruise for years.
Wasser, whose daughter Laura is a top Hollywood divorce attorney herself, has been involved in a number of high-profile showbiz divorces, with Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood and Jane Fonda among his former clients.
"Dennis is a gentleman and exceptionally bright," says L.A. family law attorney Robert Brandt. "His ultimate goal is to settle cases, but he won't do it out of weakness. He's not intimated by anyone."
Fields, who has represented such megastars as Madonna and the Beatles, "is considered the dean of entertainment trial lawyers," says L.A. lawyer Larry Stein, who practices in the same field. "He's not a brash person; he's quietly aggressive. He's a Harvard Law graduate who uses his intellect and charm to win his cases."
Because Holmes filed for divorce in New York, Wasser told PEOPLE that he and Fields will be joined by a lawyer based in that state. They could attempt to move the proceedings to L.A., where judges are more likely to award joint custody – a decision that will likely be made in the coming days.
Courtesy of Jonathan W. Wolfe; Courtesy Dennis Wasser
Holmes also has a strong legal team in place. New Jersey-based attorney Jonathan Wolfe, 36, will be working with New York attorneys Allan Mayefsky and his partner Michael Mosberg.
Less known in show business circles, Wolfe has handled plenty of high-powered cases, including the divorces of football star Braylon Edwards and NHL player Martin Brodeur, and has written extensively about matrimonial law.
"He is the finest of the fine," says Randall M. Kessler, Chairman of the American Bar Association's Family Law Section, who has partnered with Wolfe on many cases. "He comes from a family of successful lawyers, including his identical twin brother."
Another source who has worked with Wolfe calls him "cool as a cucumber" under pressure. "He's aggressive, but he leans toward trying to keep cases, as much as possible, out of the courts. Without any question, he knows how to maintain privacy and discretion and knows how to negotiate deals. Whatever the outcome is, it'll be fair for both sides," the source adds.
Meanwhile, Mayefsky, a partner at Aronson, Mayefsky & Sloan, is a Harvard Law grad with more than 25 years of family law experience. His firm represented Peter Cook in his bitter 2008 divorce from Christie Brinkley. Mosberg, a partner in the firm, is a Brooklyn Law School grad who's been practicing since 1998.
Mayefsky is "a low-key, excellent attorney," says New York matrimonial attorney Nancy Chemtob. "He's mild-mannered. He's a nice, reasonable man. He's definitely very bright."
Reporting by MARY GREEN, KEN LEE and LINDA MARX
For much more on the split, including Holmes's dramatic exit from the marriage and the legal battle ahead, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now