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Celebrity divorce settlement stymied over semantics and egos

In Texas and elsewhere, celebrity divorces may be instructive to family law litigants by highlighting one or more universal issues often apparent in such matters. The Amber Heard and Johnny Depp divorce settlement is worth looking at for a few general principles. The parties had negotiated a $6.8 million settlement in August, but that has bogged down over a continuing contentiousness that should have stopped when the agreement was signed.

The proceeding has been marked by a bitter battle of claims and counterclaims between Heard and Depp. Throughout the public spectacle, there have been sharp undercurrents of Heard being a gold digger. Heard, on the other hand, has accused Depp of physical abuse and has made public presentations about being a victim of domestic violence after the settlement was announced.

Each side has tried to prove his or her case in the press. Heard, for example, recently circulated press interviews setting forth her current position and her reasons why Depp has inappropriately failed to make settlement distributions to her. Depp earlier paid $200,000 directly to the American Civil Liberties Union after Heard announced that she was giving her settlement to charity.

In an instance of utter distrust, Depp decided to call Heard's "bluff" by sending the small partial payment to the ACLU. He also publicly explained the general idea that if Amber was going to be totally altruistic that he could simplify things by paying the charities directly. Since then, Depp has made no payments, causing Heard to file a motion to compel the settlement, with payments of course being made directly to her.

The outcome is unclear, but it is doubtful that Depp will jeopardize the legality of the settlement by refusing to go through with it. He has made his point in the public war of words, but ultimately the written agreement will make sense when Depp again reviews his options. In Texas, divorce litigants who take advantage of the services of an experienced divorce attorney will be well-prepared and counseled to avoid side-tracking the case over ego-centered considerations and overly technical interpretations of their settlement provisions.  

Source: The Huffington Post, "Amber Heard Files Court Order After Johnny Depp Refuses To Pay Divorce Settlement", Cole Delbyck, Dec. 15, 2016

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