In May Amber Heard filed for divorce from actor Johnny Depp amid allegations of domestic violence. At the time, Heard filed a temporary restraining order against Depp. The actress is now speaking out in a new PSA.
Heard Addresses Domestic Violence in PSA
Amber Heard recently recorded a PSA in part with the #GirlGaze Project that addressed violence against women and domestic abuse.
During the PSA, Heard touched on the abuse allegations she made against her estranged husband. “I guess there was a lot of shame attached to that label of ‘victim,'” she explained. “It happens to so many women. When it happens in your home, behind closed doors, with someone you love, it’s not as straightforward. If a stranger did this it would be a no-brainer.”
In California, when a person is charged with spousal abuse relating to domestic violence, there are two common charges. These two charges are: corporal injury to a spouse or spousal battery. Below we outline the differences between the two.
Corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant is charged as a felony crime. This charge can be brought when a person willfully inflicts on his or her spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or on any person who is the parent of his or her child, corporal injury that results in a traumatic condition.
“Traumatic condition” is defined by the California Penal code as a condition of the body, such as a wound or injury, regardless of how serious that wound or injury is. Regardless of how slight an injury is, as long as there is an injury, an arrest will be made if police are called to the scene of a domestic violence incident.
Spousal battery is generally charged as a misdemeanor crime. California penal code defines battery as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. A person can be charged with spousal battery when a person commits battery against a spouse, a cohabitant, former spouse, fiancée, or a person with whom the person accused of has previously dated or are dating. Injury is not required for a person to be charged with spousal battery.
Divorce Settlement Donated to ACLU
In mid-August Amber Heard announced she would be donating the $7 million she was awarded as part of her divorce settlement from Johnny Depp to her two favorite charities – the American Civil Liberties Union, with a focus on battling violence against women, and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. The actress has volunteered at the charities for 10 years. But it seems Heard has yet to donate her settlement money because their divorce hasn’t been finalized yet.
“The settlement documents are being finalized and will be signed this week,” Heard’s lawyer explained. “Johnny is obligated by the settlement to pay Amber, and she in turn will honor her pledges to Children’s Hospital and the American Civil Liberties Union.”
O’Donnell continued, “Amber’s commitment to protecting victims of domestic violence and helping sick children is her life’s work. Her recent PSA on domestic violence does not violate her settlement agreement with Johnny. She will continue to lend her voice to the rising chorus of women speaking out about this terrible scourge on the American family.”
It’s not uncommon for us to hear about high net-worth divorces coming out of Hollywood. Defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission, a “High Net-Worth Divorce” is “One in which a natural person who has individual net worth, or joint worth with the person’s spouse, that exceeds $1 million dollars at the time of purchase, excluding the value of the primary residence of such person; or a natural person with an income exceeding $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 for those years and a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year.”
For individuals who carry a significant net worth, such as Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, protecting themselves in the case of divorce is essential in order to properly secure their assets. Statistically speaking, individuals across a wide spectrum can find themselves facing the reality of divorce, no matter their socioeconomic status, ethnicity or religion, but the more assets involved and the higher the net worth, the greater the stakes when it comes to separation of finances and property.
Spousal Support Determinations
If you are getting divorced, and are seeking spousal support, or are expected to pay spousal support payments, there are some important things you’ll want to understand. A family law attorney will be able to walk you through the specifics of your case, but here we’ll provide you with a general overview of aspects of spousal support including: the awarding of spousal support, tax laws, and what can happen if spousal support payments are not made.
Defining Spousal Support
Spousal support (also known as alimony) is financial assistance that is only available to those who were legally married. It recognizes a partner’s contribution to the marriage and its goal is to help the recipient achieve financial independence. Rules regarding alimony vary state by state.
Calculating Spousal Support
When a court presides over a spousal support hearing, it weighs a number of factors including: the length of the marriage, the needs of each spouse, the standard of living that was created and maintained during the marriage, any assets, the age of the spouses, numerous other factors, and state specific laws. Your divorce attorney will build your case for spousal support based on your own specific circumstances.
Length of Spousal Support
The duration of spousal support payments is set by the court after it weighs the arguments that have been made. Typically, the length of payments lasts for half the length of a less than 10 years long marriage. For example: a marriage of six years means the spousal support payments will need to be paid for three years.
In longer marriages, a court might not set an a duration for the alimony payments. In that case, it is up to your divorce attorney to prove your side of the case and the duration. You should work with your divorce attorney to establish your side, regardless of if you are paying or receiving payments, and also determine the amount of time you seek. The court will then listen to both arguments, and using common law, decide upon the duration.
Permanent or Lifetime Spousal Support
“Permanent” or “Lifetime” spousal support means support will be paid to the recipient until the death of the one paying, or sometimes until the recipient remarries. While remarriage has been a reason for the end of spousal support payments, that is not always the case, and sometimes a court will rule that a remarriage does not mean the end of the support payments.
As women became a stronger component of the workforce, permanent support began to be rewarded less and less. And now courts rarely award permanent support. One appellate court stated:
“As recognized by our Supreme Court, the public policy of this state has progressed from one which entitled some women to lifelong alimony as a condition of the marital contract of support, to one that entitles either spouse to post-dissolution support for only so long as is necessary to become self-supporting.”
A court will usually require the higher earner, regardless of if they are husband or wife, to assist the lower earner with maintaining the standard of living, at least for a period of time.
“Standard of Living”
Heard is seeking $50,000 a month in spousal support, an amount that is reportedly based on their “marital lifestyle.” This “marital lifestyle” will be based on what is called a “standard of living,” which is often used as a sort of guidebook for how much money a spouse will receive.
Spousal support’s main purpose is to assist a supported spouse in maintaining a standard of living that was close to that which was attained during the marriage. But the goal is for the spouse receiving the payments to eventually become self-supporting to the greatest extent possible. A court will take the following into account:
- marketable skills of the supported spouse,
- job market for those skills,
- any time or expense the supported spouse will need to acquire education or training for employment or enhanced employability, and
- the extent to which periods of unemployment (due to domestic duties) during the marriage have impaired the supported spouse’s present or future earning capacity.
The court will also consider any other factors, including:
- extent to which the supported spouse contributed to the other spouse’s attainment of education, training, professional licensing or career advancement (this can also mean the extent to which the supported spouse provided and maintained home life while the other spouse was advancing his or her career)
- ability of the supporting spouse to pay support. A court will take into account earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living,
- needs of each party based on what the marital standard of living was,
- each spouse’s obligations and assets, including separate property,
- duration of the marriage,
- ability of a spouse who is also a custodial parent to engage in employment without interfering with the interests of dependent children,
- each spouse’s age and health,
- documented history of domestic violence by either spouse*,
- immediate and specific tax consequences to each spouse (often times tax agreements are figured out during the awarding of spousal support and child support agreements),
- balance of the hardships to each spouse, and
- the goal that the supported spouse will be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. This follows a general rule of thumb presumed to be one-half the length of a marriage (unless the marriage was longer than 10 years).
*California courts do not ordinarily consider conduct when making spousal support determinations. But often times, a court will not award support to a spouse that has a proven history of violence toward the other spouse.
While a history of violence might factor into Depp and Heard’s case, it will be up to a judge to determine if that is a factor in the two’s divorce case, or if, as Depp’s lawyer’s allege that Heard is just using the restraining order as a means to secure her future financial footing.
A Family Law Attorney
But when it comes to the actual legal process of a divorce, you’ll want to work with a skilled family law attorney There are a number of things that need to be considered during a divorce: child support, spousal support, marital property division, and other things. Working with a skilled attorney can help ensure you get a fair case. For advice on divorce, child custody determinations, setting up a co-parenting agreement, dividing marital property, and spousal support you need the expert law firm of Divorce Law LA. Schedule a consultation today.
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