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The Johnny Depp divorce and property division

In an Oklahoma divorce, the court will distribute marital property on an equitable and fair basis between the two estranged spouses in the absence of a valid prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement. Several factors go into this determination, including the length of the marriage and the financial status of both divorcees. While the divorce of actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is different in this regard because of California's community property laws, it can be instructive in other areas.

The funds provided by the sale of assets might help to provide fair and easily divisible compensation to both sides in a high asset divorce. It was reported that Mr. Depp had been seeking to divest himself of a substantial art collection in the months before the divorce was announced.

Although it is possible that a court might view that action with some suspicion, as it could be interpreted as an attempt to decrease the value of the marital estate if property is sold below its fair market value, in this specific case the short length of their marriage could protect Mr. Depp's actions. He had acquired the artwork prior to his marriage, making it his separately-owned property and thus likely not subject to division.

However, these types of situations are not always so clear. As an example, if a person had established a business prior to getting married and then saw its value increase during the marriage, the appreciation might be deemed marital property, especially if the non-owner spouse had a role in its success. For these and other reasons, it could be advisable for a person who is contemplating a divorce to seek the advice of a family law attorney as to how best to structure a settlement offer.

Source: Market Watch, "What unhappy couples can learn from Johnny Depp's divorce", Quentin Fottrell, June 12, 2016

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