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Billion-dollar divorce case could be record-breaking

The world's 39th richest person, according to Forbes, may have to pay the largest divorce settlement in history, and law firms in Texas and other states are paying attention to the Oklahoma proceedings in the divorce case. In May, the largest divorce judgment in history was made at $4.5 billion, but some think that oil tycoon Harold Hamm may have to give his wife $4 billion to $8 billion of his $20.2 billion estimated net worth.

Hamm is chair of the Continental Resources oil company that he founded and in which he owned the majority of shares before his marriage. However, he acquired most of his wealth during the 26-year marriage and does not have a prenuptial agreement. Hamm's wife formerly served as an executive at Continental, which may have contributed to company growth in addition to her support of Hamm at home.

An Oklahoma City judge set aside eight weeks for the divorce trail and ordered the case closed so that sensitive information about the oil company can remain private. A chair for the family law section of the Oklahoma Bar Association said that the date used for deciding the separation of assets will be important because an earlier date will likely mean that Hamm will keep a greater portion of the assets; the company has grown significantly during the past few years.

A divorce might generally include dividing monetary wealth and items in addition to determining what to do with the marital home, but a high-asset divorce may involve many properties, businesses, retirement plans, family partnerships and trusts, stocks and pensions. Most things obtained during the marriage could belong to both parties. This can make the end of a marriage especially difficult, and partners may need to think carefully about which method of divorce works best for their situation.

Source: CNN Money, "Oil tycoon could face record divorce judgment", Steve Hargreaves, August 12, 2014

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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