Many of my friends often hear me say that I prefer actual culture over pop culture, and they will be shocked that I’m writing about the personal life of movie star Jonny Depp. So I want it on the record that I learned about this story by reading an actual printed copy of the Chicago Tribune, and not from watching Access Hollywood.

Last week news broke that Depp’s wife, Amber Heard, filed for divorce from the star of great movies such as Edward Scissorhands, Donnie Brasco, and one of my wife’s favorites, Pirates of the Caribbean. At face value, this seemed like typical Hollywood romance news: A famous couple falls in love and commits to eternal matrimony and a year later they are in divorce court. However, once the press started digging into the divorce filings, they discovered some disturbing allegations made by Heard.

The Details Say It All

Heard alleged that Depp had repeatedly abused her during their brief marriage, to the point where he left bruises and cuts on her face and tried to suffocate her with a pillow. Heard was fearful enough of Depp that she petitioned for and received a restraining order against him. Now many of Depp’s fans are contemplating what to do. They love his movies, but if the allegations turn out to be true, they may not want to support him by watching his movies.

I am not about to discuss the merits of these particular allegations. This case has, however, brought attention to an issue we often need to educate our clients about. Many clients see a divorce as a personal family issue, and they don’t feel it is necessary for us to dig through the filings of these sometimes messy affairs. However, the sad truth is we often see allegations, such as the ones found in Depp’s divorce, buried deep in divorce filings in our own research into a subject. And our clients are often as shocked as Depp’s fans.

5 Critical Areas to Search in Background Investigations

This is the point of conducting a thorough background investigation in the first place as people are not always who they seem to be when you first meet them. But we don’t just look through divorce filings to find negative information. We also analyze these filings as we would in any other civil case or a bankruptcy – to find personal, professional or financial information and data points which could include:

  1. A list of assets and other financials (which certainly could prove useful in an asset search and show a new piece of property or an offshore account we didn’t know about)
  2. Details about a subject’s retirement plan and savings (which could shed light on a previous employer or the person’s professional history)
  3. Information about when and where the couple married, if it was each of their first marriage, or a bride’s previous name
  4. Details about custody issues or disputes – or allegations of abuse, as I mentioned earlier  
  5. References to other potential issues such as gambling problems, drug abuse, mental health history or problems at work

In the end, our clients come to us because they understand the necessity of conducting a thorough review of lawsuits involving the subject, including a divorce. And they want us to dig deep in those filings because they know that a history of abusive behavior is a clear indication of someone they don’t want to work with, primarily for moral and ethical reasons, but also for business reasons. Or on the flip side, those divorce filings might portray the subject in a positive light, with a solid reputation, which surely the client would be interested in as well. Either way, don’t skip over thorough review of these records, because many times you can see both a subject’s best side or the devil in these filings.

Photo: The Guardian 

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