Skip to Content
Call to Schedule a Free Consultation* 905-581-7222

It has been anything but smooth sailing for the Pirates of the Caribbean star, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard as they navigate through a messy divorce. In a recent video, Johnny Depp can be seen throwing a wine bottle and glass after Heard asked if he finished a bottle of wine. Depp then attempts to reach for Heard's cell phone to prevent her from recording his outburst. Some sources suggest that the video has been heavily edited, while others suggest that Depp should be worried.

If Heard were filing for a divorce in Ontario, she may be able to apply for divorce on the basis of cruelty. In the Divorce Act, 1985 "marriage breakdown" is the sole ground of divorce. However, marriage breakdown can be proven by either living separate and apart for a period of one year, or by adultery or cruelty. If Heard is able to prove that Depp treated her cruelly during their marriage, the court may grant an immediate divorce.

Although Heard could get an immediate divorce, proving cruelty is not a simple task. Heard would first have to establish how Depp's conduct affected her mental state during the marriage. This is a very fact specific determination and similar conduct may constitute cruelty in one case but not in another. The outcome really depends on the circumstances of each particular case.

Heard would also have to prove that Depp's outburst in the video was not merely trivial but was of a "grave and weighty" nature. This means that the cruelty has to reach a level that makes it intolerable to continue to cohabit with your spouse. This aspect of the test for cruelty is necessary in order to ensure that incompatibility does not become the basis for divorce, otherwise every couple experiencing marital difficulties could apply for an immediate divorce.

The problem is that proving "marriage breakdown" on the basis of cruelty is rare and difficult to establish and may lead to costly litigation. Although Depp and Heard aren't short on cash, it is much more efficient to live separate and apart for one year and avoid a highly litigious proceeding.