A Complete Timeline of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's Legal Battles

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are facing off in court in Virginia over a $50 million defamation lawsuit he filed against her. Check out a history of their legal battles.

By Corinne Heller, Elyse Dupre Apr 11, 2022 11:00 AMTags
Watch: Amber Heard Hopes She and Johnny Depp Can "Move On" After Trial

Amber Heard and ex-husband Johnny Depp are set to face off in a Virginia court in a trial over his 2019 $50 million defamation lawsuit against her.

The proceedings are set to begin Monday, April 11, and are expected to last about six weeks. The trial will air on Court TV.

Heard, 35, and Depp, 58, who finalized a divorce in 2017 after a 15-month marriage, have accused one another of domestic abuse during their relationship. Depp sued Heard over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed she wrote, in which she stated that "two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture's wrath for women who speak out."

While she did not name Depp, he stated in his lawsuit that the article "depends on the central premise that Ms. Heard was a domestic abuse victim and that Mr. Depp perpetrated domestic violence against her." he alleges in the documents that Heard herself "violently abused" him during their relationship. In response to the lawsuit, Heard's attorney said in a statement at the time, "This frivolous action is just the latest of Johnny Depp's repeated efforts to silence Amber Heard. She will not be silenced."

In 2020, the actress filed a $100 million countersuit against her ex, alleging that after she was granted a temporary restraining order, Depp "unlawfully targeted" her in an "ongoing harassment and online smear campaign."

Johnny Depp & Amber Heard: Romance Rewind

Here is a timeline of Depp and Heard's legal battles, including their most recent one:

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

February 2015: Heard and Depp marry at the ages of 28 and 51, respectively.

May 2016: The actress files for divorce from the Pirates of the Caribbean star after 15 months of marriage, citing "irreconcilable differences." Less than a week later, she files a domestic violence restraining order against Depp, which is granted.

"During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me," she writes in court documents obtained by E! News. "I endured excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse from Johnny, which has included angry hostile, humiliating and threatening assaults to me whenever I questioned his authority or disagreed with him."

Photos of her with bruises on her face also spread.

In a court filing, Depp's attorney wrote, "Amber is attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse."

August 2016: TMZ shares a video in which it claims Depp can be seen throwing a wine bottle and a glass in a kitchen with Heard also in the room. The Aquaman star denies leaking the footage

Later that month, Heard and her ex reach a $7 million divorce settlement. Heard donates the entire amount to the American Civil Liberties Union, with a particular focus to help stop violence against women, and to the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles


December 2016: Depp requests $100,000 in court sanctions from Heard. In court documents obtained by E! News, his legal team writes Heard "continues to needlessly litigate a case which has been settled, all while parading in front of the media in a desperate attempt to extend her 15 minutes of fame." 

He also asks to deduct the same from his next equalization payment should she fail to contribute the amount to his attorney's fees and costs as sanctions. 

Heard's attorney calls the move "just another lame attempt by Mr. Depp and his team to not pay my client the money she is owed."

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

January 2017: Heard responds to Depp's request for $100,000 in court sanctions and assures the court she is committed to a quick resolution of their divorce.

"Johnny has delayed the resolutions of this matter," she states in documents obtained by E! News. "I want my life back. I want to be divorced from Johnny now." 

A judge later rules the actress does not have to pay the actor's attorney fees, and their divorce is finalized that month. As part of a $7 million out-of-court settlement, the restraining order against Depp was dismissed with prejudice.

October 2018: Depp references Heard's allegations against him in an interview with British GQ. "The thing that hurt me is being presented as something that you're really as far away from as you could possibly get, you know?" he told the magazine. 

After the story is published, Heard's team slams the publication and Depp.

"Mr. Depp is shamefully continuing his psychological abuse of Ms. Heard, who has attempted to put a very painful part of her life firmly in her past," a spokesperson told Page Six. "One need only look at the physical evidence to draw the proper conclusion."

December 2018: Heard writes an op-ed for The Washington Post about her experience with abuse and her decision to speak out. She never mentions Depp's name.

January 2019: Depp's attorney tells E! News they've "filed a partial list of evidence that we will use to disprove the fraudulent underlying allegations against Mr. Depp." Included in the filing are references to dozens of video security tapes," as well as "eyewitness statements, newly discovered sworn affidavits and deposition transcripts from 2016, and text messages between the Sun and their #metoo source."

The evidence is said to be used in Depp's libel case against The Sun, which ran an article in which he was referred to as a "wife-beater."

March 2019: Depp files a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard over the Washington Post op-ed. In court documents, Depp alleges his ex's allegations were part of an "elaborate hoax" to "advance her career." He also claims her allegations negatively impacted his career and that Heard "violently abused" him. In addition, he accuses Heard of "spending time in a new relationship" with her former boyfriend, Elon Musk, during their marriage. 

Heard's attorney refers to the lawsuit as a "frivolous action" and the "latest of Johnny Depp's repeated efforts to silence Amber Heard." 

April 2019: Heard files a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and details the abuse she allegedly experienced from Depp. She claims the actor hit her, choked her and shoved her. She also claims Depp "would become a totally different person" whom she called "Johnny ‘the Monster.'"

"The only way for Amber Heard to sustain her hoax is to shift to new lies," Depp's lawyer says in part of his response.

Still, Heard's lawyer claims Depp "physically and verbally abused" Heard.

"Since their divorce, Mr. Depp has continued to publicly harass Ms. Heard, and attempted to gaslight the world by denying his abuse," her attorney's statement reads. "It is long past time for Mr. Depp's despicable conduct to end.  Today, we presented to the court irrefutable evidence of Mr. Depp's abuse.  It is regrettable that it will take a judge to finally end the persistent harassment of Ms. Heard by Mr. Depp, but Ms. Heard will take whatever action is necessary to vindicate the truth."

May 2019: Depp submits a lengthy declaration of support for his defamation lawsuit against his ex. In court documents obtained by E! News, Depp claims Heard "painted on bruises." He also accuses her of causing him "seriously bodily injury." Heard's attorney denies all allegations made against Heard, stating "The evidence in this case is clear: Johnny Depp repeatedly beat Amber Heard."

July 2019: Depp's team states its plans to subpoena James Franco over surveillance footage of the Pineapple Express star entering an elevator with Heard after she reportedly had a fight with Depp. Heard's attorney tells E! News the video of Franco and Heard is "irrelevant."

July 2020: Depp's lawsuit against The Sun's publisher, News Group Newspapers Ltd., goes to trial in London's high court.

August 2020: Heard files a $100 million defamation countersuit against Depp in response to his 2019 filing.

November 2020: Depp loses his libel case against News Group Newspapers Ltd. after Heard testifies during that trial, alleging the actor verbally and physically abused her, which he denies. The judge states in the ruling, "Although he has proved the necessary elements of his cause of action in libel, the defendants have shown that what they published in the meaning which I have held the words to bear was substantially true."

March 2021: The U.K. High Court denies Depp permission to appeal the ruling, staying, "The Court in its judgment emphasized that an appeal against the decision of a trial judge on questions of disputed fact faced serious difficulties: of its judgment, and that none of the criticisms of the Judge's reasoning or conclusion advanced on behalf of Mr. Depp had a real prospect of success."

April 9, 2022: Heard writes on Instagram, "Johnny is suing me for an op-ed I wrote in the Washington Post, in which I recounted my experience of violence and domestic abuse. I never named him, rather I wrote about the price women pay for speaking out against men in power. I continue to pay that price, but hopefully when this case concludes, I can move on and so can Johnny."

She adds, "I have always maintained a love for Johnny and it brings me great pain to have to live out the details of our past life together in front of the world. At this time, I recognize the ongoing support I've been fortunate to receive throughout the years, and in these coming weeks I will be leaning on it more than ever. With love always, A"

April 11, 2022: The trial over Depp's $50 million defamation case against Heard is set to begin.

(Originally published on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 at 4:51 p.m. PT)

For more information on domestic abuse or to get help for yourself or someone you love, visit the website for The National Domestic Violence Hotline (http://www.thehotline.org/) or call 1-800-799-7233.