Amber Heard and Johnny Depp: Depp's Not Paying

According to TMZ, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp are battling head-to-head just as fiercely as they did when the couple broke up several months ago. Depp claims that Heard is 'dragging her feet' as a means to gain more public exposure. Whereas, Heard claims that Depp is the one who continues to prolong the former couple's divorce. Heard further claims that Depp has defied their settlement agreement by refusing to pay her installments of $7 million.

In Ontario, many couples choose alternative dispute resolution as a result of the increasing costs of litigation, and more often than not, many parties are able to settle their matter outside of court. Typically, when a couple separates they will enter into Minutes of Settlement or a Separation Agreement, which is generally an amicable solution to the legal process. However, parties are exposed to the risk that one party will refuse to abide by the agreement.

Generally, parts of a Separation Agreement can be turned into a Court Order as long as the Agreement is valid and has been properly executed. This means that the Agreement can be enforced using the powers of the courts in the event of a breach.

If the Agreement includes a monetary award, other than child or spousal support, the Order can be enforced by garnishing the payor spouse's wages, bank accounts, or by placing a lien against his or her property. If Amber's settlement of $7 million is not intended to satisfy spousal support, then the above-noted options would be available to her in Ontario.

Furthermore, if the Order deals with non-monetary relief, you can bring a Motion for contempt of a court Order. If the breaching party is found in contempt, there are several potential sanctions, including possible jail time.

Lastly, if the Court Order deals with child or spousal support, this portion may be enforced through a government body called, the Family Responsibility Office ("FRO"). The FRO similarly has the ability to garnish the breaching party's income or bank accounts. Despite same, the FRO have extremely broad powers to enforce an Order, including, but not limited to, the ability to place someone in jail and/or suspend his or her Driver's License or Passport.

Fortunately most couples enter into settlement agreements in good faith and oftentimes abide by what they agreed to. However, if one party is in a situation where the other refuses to comply with the agreement, there are resources available to remedy same.

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