It appears Johnny Depp’s marriage to actress, Amber Heard, will soon end in divorce. Heard recently filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences,” a mere fifteen months after she exchanged   wedding vows with Depp. Since the pair did not enter into any prenuptial agreements, Heard is seeking both equitable distribution and spousal support from Depp.

Should a marriage of such short duration result in the entrance of a spousal support award? Not necessarily, according to Pennsylvania support guidelines.  Under Rule 1910.16-5(b)(8) when determining  the amount of spousal support, and whether or not to deviate from the Pennsylvania guideline amount of support, the trier of fact shall consider the duration of the marriage from the date of marriage until the date of final separation.  Additionally, under Rule 1910.16-1(c) (2) when determining the duration of the award for spousal support, the trier of fact shall consider the duration of the marriage from the date of marriage until the date of final separation.  The purpose of these provisions is to prevent the unfairness that arises in a short-term marriage when the obligor is required to pay spousal support to the obligee for a substantially longer period of time than the parties’ were married.

Should a marriage of such short duration result in the equitable division of the parties’ assets? Without a prenuptial agreement in place to protect assets and the distribution of them between estranged spouses, equitable distribution will occur.  23 Pa.C.S. 3502 states:

upon the request of either party in an action for divorce or annulment, the court shall equitably divide, distribute, or assign, in kind or otherwise, the marital property between the parties without regard to marital misconduct, in such percentages and in such manner as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors.

23 Pa.C.S. 3502(a) (1) requires the court to consider the length of the parties’ marriage as a relevant factor, when fashioning an equitable distribution award.


Boyanowski, CCara A. Boyanowski concentrates her practice in the field of domestic law and wills and estates.  As a domestic law practitioner, she represents clients in simple and complex divorce, support, custody, alimony, step-parent adoptions, name change and same-sex divorce and custody matters.  She works out of Obermayer’s Harrisburg, PA office and can be reached at 717-234-5315 or at Cara.Boyanowski@obermayer.com.