Here’s What Will Happen if Amber Heard Can’t Pay $10.35 Million Damages to Ex-husband Johnny Depp

Here’s What Will Happen if Amber Heard Can’t Pay $10.35 Million Damages to Ex-husband Johnny Depp

In his closing arguments, Depp's attorney, Ben Chew mentioned that the case "has never been about money" or about "punishing" Amber Heard.

On June 1, 2022, Johnny Depp won the case against Amber Heard. After the verdict, Depp was awarded $15 million. It was reduced to $10.35 million (based on a Virginia state law that limits punitive damages). Heard, meanwhile, was awarded $2 million in damages in her defamation countersuit.

Her attorney Elaine Bredehoft said that Heard's next step is to appeal the verdict, and when asked if Heard would be able to pay the damages, she responded, "Oh, no, absolutely not," per PEOPLE.  Then, Bredehoft mentioned in her closing arguments that Heard, 36, has paid more than $6 million in legal costs for the trial so far.



So, what exactly will happen if Heard cannot pay the money to Depp? Here's what legal analyst Emily D. Baker told PEOPLE about what could happen if Heard cannot fulfill the payment. 

"It will be up to the parties, but once the judgment is entered on June 24, I wonder if the attorneys will start negotiating that judgment payment," said Baker.

Speaking of Depp's attorney, Ben Chew's closing argument in which he mentioned that the case "has never been about money" or about "punishing" Heard, Baker imagines that Depp and Heard will "try to settle it and you'll see a PR statement that they are not seeking to enforce the judgment."



But if they choose to enforce the judgement, it may be a separate court process which can be a lengthy one and it starts once the judgement is entered. As per Baker, it could potentially include "attaching property, setting up ways it has to be paid."

"Getting the judgement is one thing. Getting the money is a whole separate thing," she said. Depp's team could also "try to attach her any wages or any residuals coming in and start going after it through the court."



If not the money, Depp could be more interested in ensuring that Heard does not repeat these allegations. In that case, Baker explains that, "they'd look at getting an injunction to stop Amber Heard from repeating statements that the jury found were defamatory and then stipulating that the payments won't be made and there won't be any judgment outstanding."

"From a PR standpoint, it would not be ideal to see Johnny Depp trying to aggressively enforce this judgement," says Baker. "... We'll see what they do. I don't think we'll see them aggressively pursuing this judgment right away. And I don't think they necessarily should at this point."

She also shared that Heard filing for bankruptcy would not necessarily help her with the damages payment.



"Because this is an intentional tort — the willful element of defamation that had to be found because they're celebrities — takes it out of the possibility of bankruptcy because it was a willful act. So it's an intentional tort," she says. "Defamation, and when it's against a public figure, that willfulness element, that malice element, takes it right out of the ability to be discharged in bankruptcy."

Meanwhile, it was also revealed during the trial that the claim Heard made back in 2016 when she publicly announced she'd be donating all of her $7 million divorce settlement to charity, half to the American Civil Liberties Union and a half to Children's Hospital Los Angeles, has still not been fulfilled. In her testimony, Heard said she still fully intends on completing the donations.



Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Jason Merritt/

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