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Charities score in the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard divorce

Tennessee residents have probably heard about the recent high-profile divorce of movie stars Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. While most couples going through a separation are not dealing with the amount of money this famous couple has, some aspects of their divorce could apply to more typical cases. Of particularly note is something Depp did that could end up costing Heard money.

Depp wrote checks totaling $7 million in conjunction with the divorce settlement. Instead of paying them to Heard, however, they went directly to Children's Hospital Los Angeles and the American Civil Liberties Union -- two charities that Heard supports.

The details of the couple's divorce settlement are not known, but these payments by Depp could be considered alimony. If that is the case, Heard could wind up having to pay taxes on the amount, even though she did not receive the money personally. Depp, on the other hand, would be able to receive a tax deduction on the amount whether it was alimony or a charitable donation.

Alimony may or may not be taxable, and payments to charities like the ones Depp made won't always be considered alimony payments to an ex-spouse. Heard might not have to pay taxes on the $7 million if it is considered a property transfer rather than alimony. It all depends on the divorce agreement.

Alimony or spousal maintenance payments can be temporary, last for several years or for the spouse's lifetime. The decision on alimony is made in a divorce case after many factors are looked at. For example, a judge may consider the local economy and the income potential of each spouse.

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