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Oil man Harold Hamm order to pay ex-wife $1 billion

Texas individuals may have heard about a high-profile divorce between oil tycoon Harold Hamm and his wife of 26 years. Sue Ann Hamm will receive a settlement of nearly $1 billion unless her appeal is successful.

Legal scholars had predicted that the divorce would prove to be the most expensive in history, but the judge's final decision awarded Sue Ann Hamm considerably less than the $4 to $8 billion they expected. Although she was an executive at the company, her ex-husband's lawyers argued that the company's monetary success had to do with an increase in oil prices rather than any particular actions that the company or its executives took. On the other hand, her lawyers argued that her work at the company and her presence in her husband's life throughout their marriage significantly contributed to the success of the business.

Harold Hamm, who is estimated to be worth more than $20 billion, will be required to pay one-third of the settlement before the end of 2014 and the remainder in monthly installments at a minimum of $7 million per month. The couple did not have a prenuptial agreement, and Harold Hamm owned the business for 20 years before his marriage.

Property division in a high-asset divorce like this one can be complicated. As part of the appeal, Sue Ann Hamm's attorneys may try to more directly demonstrate how her contributions to the company increased its worth. On the other hand, Harold Hamm's attorneys might attempt to reinforce their position that a portion of the wealth should not be subject to division because his ex-wife had little to do with its accumulation.

Source: CNN, "$1 billion divorce settlement 'disappointing'", Steve Hargreaves , November 14, 2014

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