Johnny Depp & Amber Heard's Divorce & Restraining Order Drama: Criminal Lawyer Weighs in

Earlier this week, the actress filed papers to end the couple's 15-month marriage

By Holly Passalaqua, Corinne Heller May 28, 2016 10:00 AMTags
Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Palm Springs International Film FestivalJason Merritt/Getty Images for PSIFF

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's split is getting uglier and uglier.

The 30-year-old actress filed for divorce Thursday after 15 months of marriage.  A source told E! News the pair did not have a prenuptial agreement. On Friday, she obtained a temporary domestic violence restraining order against Depp, 52.

While appearing in court, Heard sported what appeared to be a bruise on her cheekbone. She had presented a photograph that shows her with a larger one. No police reports have been filed and no arrests have been made in connection with the case.

Heard says in her filing that throughout their entire relationship, she "endured excessive emotional verbal and physical abuse from Johnny" and states several incidents in which Depp allegedly became violent with her.

Depp has not responded to her allegations. His attorney filed a response to the order filing, saying the actor wasn't even in the country to begin with and was willing to agree to "mutual stay-away and personal conduct orders," therefore there was no reason to bar him from his home.

"Amber is attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse," the attorney stated.

Heard's temporary order expires in two weeks and may be extended after a hearing that has been scheduled for mid-June.

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Will Depp face charges?

That remains to be seen. Criminal attorney Troy Slaten, who is not involved in their cases, told E! News exclusively any charges of domestic battery would be considered a misdemeanor as long as the injuries aren't severe and he does not have past similar offenses. If convicted of such a misdemeanor, an offender would face a maximum sentence of probation, counseling and fines. Prosecutors have up to a year to file any charges.

The judge who granted the restraining order denied a request from Heard that Depp attend anger management counseling until the hearing.

Slaten added that it's not very hard to obtain a temporary restraining order in California, adding, "All you have to do is allege that somebody hurt you or that there is a legitimate fear that someone is about to hurt you."

"It's important to note that only one side has gone in here—the judge has only heard part of the story and in a case like this, the judge is going to rule in her favor in an abundance of caution," he said.

At their hearing, Depp can opt to testify or grant Heard a longer-lasting restraining order, which would mean he would not be able to own a firearm in California.

Does Depp have to attend the hearing? "He does not have to," Slaten said, adding that "The witnesses don't have to be there—they can appear by declaration but it's not strong."

The actor is set to tour with the Hollywood Vampires, made up of him, shock rocker Alice Cooper and Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, on and off through the end of July but the group is not booked to perform on the day of the hearing.

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Heard can also sue Depp for assault and battery in a civil case: "When we are about a civil case, we are talking about money when we are talking about a criminal case, we're talking about somebody potentially going to jail, somebody being prosecuted by the government," Slaten told E! News, adding that a civil case "would be separate from the divorce proceedings."

"You can sue somebody for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress," he added. "You can sue somebody for interference with prospective economic advance—you are trying to mess with somebody's livelihood, you're trying to mess with somebody's business or somebody's ability for earning a living. Anyone can sue anyone for anything. Whether you are going to be successful is another thing but when you file suit against someone you are going to throw in everything plus the kitchen sink to see what sticks."

Depp could also sue Heard: "If he alleges none of this stuff actually happened, he could sue her," Slaten said. "For the same thing—interference with prospective economic advantage, for defamation of character."

The restraining order will not affect the divorce, temporary or not: "In California, we have no fault divorces," Slaten told E! News. "Which means it doesn't matter if someone cheats, or if someone is alleged to be violent. In California, if you want a divorce, you get a divorce. You don't have to prove that one side was bad or that somebody did something wrong. You can just say you don't like the way someone smells anymore and you get a divorce, and then it's 50/50."

How will their assets be split? "If he didn't have a prenup, than the law says that anything you had before the marriage is yours and everything acquired after the marriage is 50/50," Slaten said. "So any future royalties for movies that they made while they were married would be 50/50, but anything after the date the divorce is filed—not the date that it is finalized, but the date she filed for divorce—that moment after is separate property."

He said if Heard is granted spousal support, it is "going to be rather slim because they were only married for 15 months."

"Usually they give one and a half to two times the amount of the time they were married," Slaten said. "She would be looking at a maximum of 30 months for spousal support."

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Under the terms of the existing order, Depp must stay at least 100 yards away from Heard and refrain from contacting her until a hearing next month. She will also be allowed to live in their Los Angeles condo, which he purchased several years ago, and he must keep away from the property until that date. Depp also owns another home in the city. He has obtained multiple homes over the years, as well as a private Caribbean island, where he and Heard wed in 2015.

Heard also requested Depp stay away from her Yorkshire terrier Pistol, which the judge denied, saying there was "insufficient showing of need" to protect the dog. Pistol and Depp's dog Boo were the subjects of an international incident that almost landed Heard in jail in Australia last year.

Heard's lawyer had also requested that Depp allow the actress exclusive use of a Range Rover she is driving and that he continue to make payments on it, that he also continue to pay the mortgage and utilities of their Los Angeles home and also pay her "reasonable and necessary attorney's fees" and other legal costs, totaling $125,000. In her divorce filing, Heard asked for $50,000 a month in spousal support based on their "marital lifestyle." In response papers, Depp requested that it be denied.

Depp's attorney said Heard is "attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse," that the two and the court have no "financial information upon which to grant such relief" and that "as a successful actress with significant income of her own, there is no question Amber can support herself" until both actors "have had a reasonable amount of time to assess their finances" with their attorneys and later possibly negotiate a "mutually agreeable resolution."

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 or call 1-800-799-7233.

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