Amber Heard: brave and financially independent

“Amber Heard ‘suffered through years of physical and psychological abuse’ by Johnny Depp, lawyers say” is a Washington Post article in which Ms. Heard is characterized as “a brave and financially independent woman” who is besieged because the defendant whom she sued has a “relentless army of lawyers.”

Although the only thing sought by her original lawsuit (previous posting includes a link to the Petition) is money (property division, alimony, and attorney’s fees), “none of [the plaintiff’s] actions are motivated by money.” (Amber Heard is also seeking to be divorced, of course, but California is a no-fault state (offering what scholars call “unilateral divorce”) so she is 100-percent guaranteed to win that part of her lawsuit.)

The assertion of bravery would seem to merit some examination. Though married for just one year, the headline writers at the Post apparently thought it credible that she “suffered through years of physical and psychological abuse.” Was it brave for her to marry an older person with money? (“One thing that you learn pretty quickly from listening to plaintiffs in Family Court,” said one of the lawyers that we interviewed, “is that 100 percent of rich white guys are abusers.”; see the Domestic Violence Parallel Track) Given that she now says that she was abused for years prior to the marriage, was it brave for her to proceed with the marriage, thus nobly sacrificing herself to spare other women from being beaten by this guy worth $400 million?

What about the “financially independent” angle? If she wins all of her lawsuit claims she will be living in a house that someone else paid for, receiving investment fund statements regarding money that had been earned by someone else, and, via alimony, become a man’s court-ordered lifelong adult dependent. The Feminism section of the Rationale chapter, may shed some light on this characterization:

Legislators and attorneys told us that women’s groups and people identifying themselves as “feminists” were proponents of laws favoring the award of sole custody of children to mothers and more profitable child support guidelines. Is that a recognizably feminist goal? For a woman to be at home with children living off a man’s income? Here’s how one attorney summarized 50 years of feminist progress: “In the 1960s a father might tell a daughter ‘Get pregnant with a rich guy and then marry him’ while in the 2010s a mother might tell a daughter ‘Get pregnant with a rich guy and then collect child support.'” Why is that superior from the perspective of feminism? A professor of English at Harvard said “Because the woman collecting child support is not subject to the power and control of the man.”

In other words, in Feminist terms she will be “financially independent” because she won’t have to do anything for a man in order to stay in the check-of-the-month club and no man will have any control over how she spends the money that she gets from one or more men.

Generally I don’t think that celebrity divorces are very interesting. There aren’t that many movie stars with whom a person can have profitable sex. Using American family law to tap into the earning power of a financial industry executive or a physician is a much more realistic goal for a typical resident of or visitor to the U.S. But the Amber Heard lawsuit seems to be an interesting part of the Zeitgeist.

11 thoughts on “Amber Heard: brave and financially independent

  1. This leads to so many questions:

    Regarding the divorce itself, does any of the involved parties, such as the lawyers, judges, law enforcement officials(if any involved), and even the newspaper reporters, find any of these claims credible and believable? Or is everyone already so cynical and immersed in self-interest that they are merely going through the motions and the routines that they expect will eventually lead to the extraction of as much money as possible, to keep themselves paid and sustain the system?

    Regarding the laws that make this kind of events possible, how did these get passed in the first place? To accomplish this, these women’s groups and the so-called “feminists” will have to be:
    – organized
    – well-funded(paid staff, lobbyists, and lawyers?)
    – have extensive legal expertise(an extensive knowledge of current laws and how to craft future laws and regulations that will accomplish objectives, without the risk of arousing too much attention or legal and political challenges)
    – extensive political connections and influences(identifying the members of legislature that wield power and then influencing them).

    These are the kind of lobbying efforts normally mounted by corporations, with organization and funding to match. It’s difficult to see this kind of effort as that of motivated individuals, or even diverse groups. If it really is the result of an organized campaign, then who is funding and organizing these? Lawyers? Police unions? Prison guard unions?

    Equally surprising is the fact that this kind of legislative action can be carried out without being detected and opposed. While most of the victims of these laws consists of ordinary men who have no legal or financial means to oppose them, there are many wealthy and powerful men, such as Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, Johnny Depp, and etc, who can be snagged by this, and who definitely have the legal and financial means to oppose them. Are they opposed to these laws? Did they try to oppose these laws, perhaps covertly? If not, why not?

  2. Democrats and attorneys write the laws. When Republicans resist them, they are accused of waging a war on women. It is an effective tactic, and they shy away from those accusations.

  3. Henry, that state rep has reportedly blocked family court reform for years/decades. To my reading, the laws were “operationalized”/rewritten behind closed doors and strayed from their original intention. For example, child support was supposed to be set at 115% of TANF, but instead was raised much, much higher. Absent parent (runaway father) was changed to non-custodial parent (dad thrown out of house by mother). Child support enforcement could then include middle and upper class women, so that well enough heeled fathers could create 66 cents on the dollar in matching funds of hundreds of millions of dollars for the States to use as they please. Reportedly, it was told that this is too much money for the State to give up, so shared parenting and alimony reform cannot happen, even with 100% legislative approval. I think an economic study is indicated, to crunch the numbers to see if shared parenting and limited alimony will decrease social spending (less juvenile crime, suicide attempts, addiction) and increase tax revenue (mom goes back to work and that State gets their 5% of her income, instead of just collecting child support and mom can’t move out of state to collect Massachusetts level child support and live even higher off the hog in a lower cost of living state while alienating Dad). Maybe the state can give up those matching funds and come out ahead. Perhaps that is the study that needs to be done.

  4. Folks: To which Massachusetts state rep are you referring? Cynthia Creem? (see and ) Or are there additional state reps who earn a living in family court? (Creem was on the committee in the summer of 2015 that killed a proposal to tweak Massachusetts family law, mostly with renamings, so that it was potentially a lower-stakes (and therefore lower fee) jurisdiction. See this post from July 2015.)

  5. Well, it could be worse… one could be a taxpayer in Denmark and have to pay alimony to the Prince’s ex-wife:

    “From 1849 to 1995, only heirs to the throne, their spouses and widows were supported financially by the state. Those rules were changed upon Prince Joachim’s marriage to his now ex-wife Alexandra to include his family. Two decades later, many politicians appear to regret the decision.”

    “Danes are also solidly against the idea of continuing to give Joachim’s ex-wife, Countess Alexandra, the 2.3 million kroner ($345,000, €310,000) she gets in annual support from the state despite having been an official member of the royal family since 2005.”

    Nothing like paying another man’s alimony!

  6. More absurdity on Danish royal alimony:

    “Over a four-page spread, the sunburned former princess and her husband, sound engineer Martin Jørgensen, spoke among other things about the landscape around the couple’s large villa – it is an excellent contrast to the flat Denmark, we are told. It costs taxpayers more than two million a year to keep the Countess Alexandra in sunshine and mountain peaks….We have been cheated for an explanation as to why the divorce – otherwise described as ‘a private matter’ – suddenly became our responsibility as payable.”

    “Furthermore, [Prince] Joachim gave his ex-wife an unencumbered villa in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Copenhagen, free of charge, just to make sure that the two numbers in succession should not grow up in a two-room concrete slum on the outer Nørrebro overlooking the back patches and burnt out cars.”

    “It is now very little that we see Alexandra at work, unless, of course, giving an interview with Billed-Bladet belongs in that category.”

    “And it would suit our reformist prime minister, if she immediately set in motion efforts to ensure that Danish taxpayers no longer have to support a woman who, with her background, education and social circle certainly should be able to fend for herself.”

  7. Who else?
    I ran across Creem at the Abigail Adams awards. I introduced myself and asked about to support family law reform. She told me that she had nothing to do with that. I then reminded her that she was on the judiciary committee. She reminded me that we were at a social function. I asked to set up a meeting with her in her office. She refused. She then told me that I was accosting her and that she would call the police on me. Then she walked away. Mind you, I am a diminutive, greying, aging and pudgy matron, dressed in a knit suit, wielding only a medium size pocketbook and we were in the lobby of a swanky hotel with plenty of security. I posed no imminent danger to Ms. Creem.

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