Heymann & Fletcher
July 01, 2022

Celebrity Divorce Gone Wrong

Practice Area: Family Law,Civil Litigation,Mediation and Arbitration | Tag: Divorce,Domestic Violence

Celebrity walking red carpet

For the past few months, the news has been flooded with the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation case. The case may seem like it came out of nowhere, but it stems from a celebrity divorce gone wrong. Let’s look at the history of the relationship and how the divorce process played a role in the outcome of the defamation case. 

Not surprisingly Ms. Heard and Mr. Depp’s history goes back over a decade. After years of dating out of the public’s eye, the couple decided to make it official in 2015, and get married. The marriage however was short-lived, with many speculations of a toxic relationship between the two. The couple decided to file for divorce in 2016 followed by a temporary restraining order requested by Ms. Heard based on domestic violence allegations. However, days before the trial Ms. Heard retracted her allegations and dropped her restraining order. On August 16, 2016, a $7 million divorce settlement was reached. 

Two years later, Ms. Heard wrote an op-ed article about domestic violence. Although Mr. Depp was not mentioned in the article, he filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit in 2019 against Ms. Heard claiming the op-ed was “categorically false.” During this time, Depp was excluded from movie roles and describes as a "wife-beater" in a New York Times article. In 2020, the case became more complex as leaked audio of the couple in therapy was released.

Over a year later the case made it to trial lasting nearly two months, involving a countersuit of $100 million filed by Ms. Heard. On June 1, 2022, the jury found Ms. Heard guilty of defamation by Johnny Depp in three counts. The first count was awarded $15 million for the former Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them star ($10 million in compensatory and another $5 million in punitive damages, per the New York Times). The jury also awarded Ms. Heard $2 million in compensatory damages for her countersuit.

Celebrity case or not, divorce is a complex and emotional time especially when it involves domestic violence. Claims of domestic violence are very serious and should never be taken lightly. In toxic relationships, it can be extremely difficult to identify these behaviors and to navigate the difficulties of divorce and all that it entails. As NJ family lawyers with a history of protecting domestic violence victims, we hope that people learn from Depp v. Heard case.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence, call the national hotline (800) 799-7233 for help.