Family law specialist and Hollywood divorce lawyer Steve Mindel told TheWrap that, when the financials of Depp and Heard’s split are sorted out, the actress could be walking away with a jaw-dropping sum.
“It wouldn’t shock me if, after a 15-month marriage, she gets $5 or $7 or $10 million,” Mindel told TheWrap. “It just wouldn’t be shocking.”
According to Mindel, in the absence of a prenuptial agreement, Heard would be entitled to half of what Depp earned during their marriage, minus Depp’s business expenses and taxes paid on the earnings. Presumably that would include Depp’s earnings from “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” which filmed last year.
“Johnny Depp made a lot of money in these 15 months, and she’s going to be entitled to a lot of money,” Mindel said.
Heard’s financial entitlement also has the potential to stretch out for years. As Mindel explained, the actress, who wed Depp in February 2015, could receive a big slice of royalties and back-end money that Depp receives from his work done during their marriage.
“She may say, ‘Look, my community property interest (in the marriage) isn’t just limited to the money that he made to do ‘Pirates.’ It’s the residuals that come off of that infinitum.’ So she would get half of those numbers less whatever his reasonable business expenses are,” Mindel said.
Depp could offer a buyout for the future entitlements for a lump sum, Mindel said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if the buyout was between $5 and $10 million.”
One area where Heard isn’t likely to clean up: Spousal support. The actress is asking for $50,000 per month until the divorce is settled. Depp’s team has filed legal papers saying that a payout before the financial situation has been sorted out would be “premature.”
Mindel told TheWrap that the spousal support is “probably the red herring in this case,” because of the brevity of the marriage and because the property division is likely to be “massive” and far greater than the spousal support would be.
“She might get six months, maybe a year of spousal support, total,” Mindel said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if she got zero spousal support, because she’s going to get such a large property division.”
Shortly after filing for divorce from Depp on May 23, Heard was granted a temporary restraining order against Depp, claiming domestic violence.
According to Mindel, the domestic violence accusations aren’t likely to affect spousal support or a divorce settlement. However, he noted, Heard could file a separate civil case against Depp on the domestic violence allegations, which “might be worth a lot of money.”
Still, Mindel opined that she probably won’t file a spousal tort claim. “I suspect that would be pretty hard to prove, and there would have to be pretty substantial domestic violence,” he said.
However, Mindel said, the restraining order could have the effect of putting pressure on Depp.
“She’s making a big statement filing this with the public courts and filing the restraining order,” Mindel noted. “This is a big statement that she’s making to Johnny, that, ‘You better write me a big check to quiet this down.”
“The domestic violence charges, whether true or partially true, are a great bargaining chip for her,” Mindel said.