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No prenuptial agreement may cost Johnny Depp dearly

The break-up of the 15-month marriage between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has been reported all over the media. Apart from the news that Heard accused Depp of domestic violence, it is speculated that the couple did not sign a prenuptial agreement. That leads to lots of speculation about the division of assets, as they live in a community property state with divorce laws similar to those here in Texas.

In community property states, all money earned while the couple was married belongs to both spouses and will be split equally. Any property or money acquired before the marriage will remain the property of that person. But how will the court regard the assets of Johnny Depp? Since he earned $97 million in 2009 -- reportedly mostly from the successful "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise -- Depp has been on top of the Forbes' list of highest-paid actors, and he apparently earned $30 million in 2015. Along with this comes a private island, large estates, lavish penthouses and more -- how much of this will the court give to Heard?

Although their marriage was relatively brief, Depp's multimillion salary earnings of last year will likely be split. But what about the income from movies whose deals were signed prior to their marriage? There is also the question about backend residuals for movies he acted in while they were married. Depp stands to lose a substantial portion of his riches because he failed to draft a prenuptial agreement.

Texas couples must not accept that prenuptial agreements are only needed in high-asset marriages. Prenups can protect the interests of both spouses in any marriage. They are particularly effective for older couples who enter into a marriage already owning assets, those who have children from previous marriages, or for people who anticipate significant income in the future. The most appropriate manner to proceed may be for each partner to retain the services of an experienced divorce attorney who can provide guidance and support with drafting a legal prenuptial agreement.

Source: buzzfeed.com, "Amber Heard And Johnny Depp Divorce: What's At Stake?", Claudia Rosenbaum, June 8, 2016

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