Deep v Heard – Legal Takeaways Relevant to a Family Law Matter
The civil trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has come to an end, though media outlets are reporting that Heard will appeal.
Jurors found Heard liable for defaming Depp in an Op-Ed published in the Washington Post and finding Depp liable for his attorney’s statement to the Daily Mail that called her claims a hoax. Jurors awarded Depp a total of $15 million in damages and Heard $2 million.
There are many lessons we can learn from this trial that can apply to those pursuing a family law action.
- A plaintiff’s or defendant’s present or prior mental state, and relevant communications with physicians or therapists, are often admissible and can become significant factors during a trial.
- Those things you do or say may come back to haunt you in litigation. This includes texts, social media posts, and even conversations with others who might ultimately testify.
- There is overuse of alleging mental health or personality disorders in spouses on the other side of the table. We should do our best not to conflate behaviors with a mental health diagnosis unless a mental health professional can attest to that diagnosis.
Above all else, taking care of yourself and your children is paramount. And almost equally important is finding a way to peacefully co-parent with your co-parent.
The research is completely clear on this point: finding a way to work together and not insult the other parent in your child’s presence will pay enormous dividends in how your children react to a separation or divorce. Finding a way to work with your co-parent and being supportive of that relationship will affect how the Court perceives you if there if there is ever a need to modify custody. (And making an effort to make peace of some kind will likely take the stress level down for you, too.)