In a textbook case of a messy divorce, actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are entangled in lawsuits after their separation in 2017. Heard alleged in 2018 that she was the victim domestic abuse at Depp’s hands. Her accusations had consequences for both actors’ careers.

In early March 2019, Depp’s legal team accused Heard of abusing him and never the other way around. They also launched a $50 million defamation lawsuit against her. These legal troubles are a powerful reminder of the complicated and expensive nature of divorce.

What role did a post-nuptial agreement play?

Many celebrities, wealthy people and even those of average income who have assets or children from a previous marriage choose to enter into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. These agreements protect the pre-marriage assets of either spouse in the event of divorce.

Allegedly, Depp proposed that he and Heard enter into a postnuptial agreement. Heard allegedly reacted violently and refused. As a result, their divorce was very complicated.

Many opposers to pre or postnuptial agreements feel that it jinxes a marriage or targets the lower-earning spouse. Supporters of the arrangements say that it helps both parties recognize the financial importance of a marriage and gives both spouses peace of mind.

What role did defamation play into the divorce?

Fame is a complication in any marriage. It automatically sets up a power imbalance and muddies the waters of consent, financial obligation and can make it difficult for partners to trust one another.

In this case, Heard took their marriage troubles public. She filed for a restraining order (which she later withdrew and dismissed), spoke openly about matters that were allegedly false and published an op-ed in the Washington Post about the cultural backlash of speaking out as a victim of abuse.

These public statements affected both actors’ careers. Depp is seeking financial compensation for his resulting losses to career and reputation. Heard is expected to argue that she suffered the same. The truth is unclear. If you divorce, it could be better to say little or say nothing about your ex to help avoid future legal troubles.