What Happens Without a Prenup? Divorce Lawyers Weigh In on Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's 15-Month Marriage
Heard filed a divorce petition on Monday, citing irreconcilable differences and demanding spousal support. Depp asked a judge to refuse Heard’s demand, according to documents obtained by PEOPLE. The couple didn’t have a prenup, according to TMZ.
Legal experts say that since the marriage only lasted 15 months, Heard would have a hard time winning a hefty sum from Depp in court, but it may be worth it for the ultra-wealthy actor to pay up in order to avoid a lengthy, public divorce.
“It’s not really a marriage, it’s a long date,” quips celebrity divorce lawyer Raoul Felder. “Ordinarily, [Heard would] get nothing out of it at all … But [Depp is] not protected [if] there’s no prenup.”
Adds Felder, who has represented stars like Robin Givens, the late David Gest and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani: “It may be worth his while to give her $200,000 a year for five years or 10 years. If he has to give [Heard] a million dollars to get rid of her, that’s a great deal.”
“The alternative is to spend more and more money on lawyers, which stretches things out. His private business becomes public laundry.”
The pair would also likely split any income earned over the course of the marriage. “Because it’s a short-term marriage, the odds are there will not be a lot of asset distribution,” Jacquelyn Newman (of Berkman Bottger Newman & Rodd), a New York-based lawyer who deals with high-net-worth and high-profile clients, tells PEOPLE. “The issue that would be considered by the courts would be how much money [Depp] made during the marriage for any asset distribution.”
While he was married to Heard, Depp starred in the action-packed farce Mortdecai and the crime biopic Black Mass. The actor pocketed millions from Mortdecai, according to Forbes, and up to $20 million for Black Mass, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Depp’s lawyer is Laura Wasser, one of the most high-powered celebrity divorce attorneys in Hollywood, while Heard is represented by Los Angeles-based attorney Samantha Spector.
Newman says that the worst thing that could happen is for the two to engage in a heated legal battle and end up “spending more in legal fees than any ultimate award.”
However, she adds that Depp and Heard will most likely “settle their case and would never see the inside of a courtroom.”