Lessons for Johnny Depp: Premarital & Confidentiality Agreement
Divorces in general can be quite complicated and messy. When celebrities are involved, divorces can quickly become viral sensations as celebrities deepest and darkest secrets are broadcasted across the globe. Not to mention the aftermath to their career as these public grievances can forever curtail their career and public perception. As Benjamin Franklin famously stated, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Exhibits like these can easily be avoided with a Prenuptial and Confidentiality Agreement.
As most of us have heard, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are back in the court room for a multimillion-dollar defamation trial. The front page $50 million defamation lawsuit Johnny Depp brought against his ex-wife, oddly resembles their divorce proceedings. It is hard to believe that the couple has spent more time together battling in court over the last 6 years compared to their brief marriage of just 16 months. Mr. Depp thought his troubles with Amber were behind him with their $7 million divorce settlement. While they amicably parted ways, that quickly changed in 2016 when Amber appeared on the cover of People Magazine in a photo that showed bruising on her face. Two years later in 2018, Amber wrote a piece for the Washington Post that portrayed her as a victim of abuse. Despite Mr. Depp not being named in the piece, Depp claims it caused insurmountable damage to his reputation and career. Mr. Depp alleges the piece was written to boost her career and is seeking $50 million in damages for defaming his character. Amber overshadowed his lawsuit with a countersuit for a $100 million.
While we stay tuned for the jury’s verdict, a premarital agreement would have made a world of difference. Considering their marriage barely surpassed a year, it certainly would have protected Mr. Depp from a sizable financial settlement. A prenuptial agreement, in conjunction with, a confidentiality agreement would have protected Mr. Depp from being today’s celebrity trial sensation. Mr. Depp is not the only one that could have benefited from a prenuptial agreement, as it would have protected specific assets owned by Amber or her income earned within the State of California from becoming community property. These specific assets could have been excluded in the determination of the final settlement amount. Not to mention, that a confidentiality agreement would have minimized public discussion of her problems. While Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are used to public scrutiny, without these protections we are opening our private affairs for public interpretation and discussion.
The decision to have a premarital agreement in place prior to a marriage can be an intimidating one. However, divorce can quickly become emotionally charged and often involves many issues beyond just a financial settlement. While it may seem as if those who get a premarital agreement are giving up on their marriage before it even begins, having an agreement in place provides many benefits and offers greater protection for assets that you would like to maintain control should the marriage end. Remember by tackling difficult post marriage conversations now and working together with your partner, you are building the foundation for a positive and communicative marriage. In the event of a divorce, you and your spouse have already navigated many of the complicated aspects of separation. We have all heard horror stories or even observed instances where prized possessions, family heirlooms, cars or even homes are either destroyed or sold at discount prices to prevent the ex-spouse from receiving them. By simply establishing divorce boundaries today, it can prevent and avoid drawn out financial and emotional battles. In the case of Mr. Depp, it could have prevented battles over spousal support and avoided the costly six years of litigation.
Regardless of your financial situation, whether you are marrying for the first time or considering remarrying later in life, it might be worthwhile to discuss getting a premarital agreement with your partner. Not only do prenuptial agreements help couples plan what to do in the event of a divorce or death, but they can also reduce the risk of divorce. Two of the most common causes of divorce are when a couple cannot effectively communicate and being unable to resolve differences over finances. Therefore, premarital agreements provide couples with the opportunity to have an open and honest conversation about their future without the stress and animosity that comes with getting a divorce. While Coral Gables Trust does not draft legal documents or agreements, we have robust relationships with industry leading attorney’s and can be your advocate for these difficult conversations and planning.