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Lessons from the Depp-Heard split

The end of the marriage between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is making news around the globe, and their breakup highlights some things that anyone might go through when dissolving a marriage. Texas couples whose relationships are on the rocks might gain some information from this highly-publicized split.

Depp is selling nine Jean-Michel Basquiat works through Christie's auction house in London, and it is unknown whether this is related to his divorce or not. Depp has been amassing his collection for more than a decade while his marriage to Heard lasted only 15 months. This means the art likely belongs to Depp alone since he acquired it before the marriage. In other circumstances, one partner sometimes sells items before a divorce to reduce the marital estate that will be divided. However, intentionally doing this could be frowned upon by the judge hearing the case.

In a high asset divorce, there is more reason to attempt to settle outside of court. Going to court can be an inconvenience and risky when there are so many assets at stake. Litigated divorces are also more public, which celebrities like Depp and Heard might want to avoid. Even those who are not famous could still experience scrutiny about their private lives and incomes. A couple might wish to seek alternative means of divorce like mediation or negotiation. This could be successful if both parties are honest and able to communicate and compromise.

Like California, which has jurisdiction over the Depp-Heard dissolution, Texas is a community property state. Most of the property acquired during a marriage is jointly owned by both parties and may be subject to a 50/50 split by the court. However, attorneys for the respective parties could negotiate a settlement agreement containing different terms.

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