Tabloid readers in New Jersey and around the country may have felt that they were in for an eventful few months when Amber Heard filed for divorce from Johnny Depp after just 15 months of marriage. A-list breakups are often replete with salacious accusations, bitter custody feuds and acrimonious property division negotiations, but some observers feel that Depp and Heard will provide gossip aficionados with none of these things.
The problem for the paparazzi is that Depp and Heard were only married for a brief time, and most of Depp’s considerable estate was amassed before he even met the “Friday Night Lights” actress. California’s community property laws only require couples to divide assets that they acquired while they were married. The millions Depp earned from films like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Lone Ranger” will be off the table when the estranged spouses begin their negotiations, and the movies Depp has starred in during his brief marriage to Heard have generally not done as well as his previous hits.
This is why many legal analysts expect the two to reach a quick settlement, and it is also the reason why the impending sale of nine paintings from Depp’s extensive art collection has raised few eyebrows. The Jean-Michel Basquiat works are to go under the hammer in London at the end of June, but they were acquired by the actor long before the wedding.
Most high-asset divorces involve couples who have been married for longer than 15 months, and property division negotiations can quickly become heated when the stakes are high. Family law attorneys may sometimes encounter spouses who attempt to conceal assets or otherwise negotiate in bad faith, and they could call upon experts such as forensic accountants or investment specialists to help ensure that their clients receive a fair settlement.