When actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard married in California, they entered into a marriage contract in a community property state. Now that they have announced their divorce after being married only 15 months, celebrity watchers have speculated that Depp’s recent art sale could be motivated by the separation. Although neither party has made a public comment about that possibility, one divorce expert and author explained that the art would not likely be considered part of the marital property.
Depp had been collecting the artwork since the 1990s. Because Depp acquired these assets before his marriage to Heard, the law might not require their division as marital property. In a community property state, the law defines marital property as assets gained during a marriage.
The sale of nine pieces from Depp’s collection will take place at Christie’s auction house in London. According to a statement from the auction house, the arrangements for the auction began in early 2016. Although the law might not decree that Heard has a right to a portion of the auction proceeds, some of the money might ultimately be included in the divorce settlement. The ex-spouses could choose to negotiate their divorce terms as many wealthy people settle their divorces out of court instead of allowing their finances to become a matter of public record.
When a person decides to get a divorce, an attorney could supply information about how the law might direct the property division. To avoid the possibility of a family court imposing the terms of a divorce, the person could ask the attorney to initiate negotiations with the ex-spouse. This might insulate the person from hostile feelings and keep the discussions productive until an agreement is reached. Additionally, an attorney might help a person document ownership of non-marital assets.