Is $1 Billion a Fair Divorce Settlement?
The answer to that question appears to be the only thing that ex-couple Harold Hamm and Sue Ann Arnall can seem to agree on: no. Oil entrepreneur and multi-billionaire Harold Hamm, the CEO of Continental Resources, originally called the settlement “fair and equitable” but has since changed his tune. His ex-wife, a former attorney and manager for Hamm’s company, also appealed the settlement amount, claiming that it was was unfair. With this being one of the largest divorce settlements in recorded history, it’s important to find out: who is right?
The Ex-Husband’s Case
Hamm already owned 68% of Continental before he got married. Although he is respected as an experienced and successful businessman, Hamm claims that the price of the Continental stock he owned became higher-valued because of the increase in oil prices and other factors over which he had control. He is not just being modest. Under Oklahoma law, if assets are accrued during marriage from passive rather than active sources, they may not be divided equitably between the divorcing spouses. By arguing that the increase in his net worth was due to passive luck instead of his or his wife’s hard work may save him hundreds of millions or even billions. Although Hamm initially agreed to the $1 billion settlement agreement, he now claims that the figure is too high. Previously worth $19 billion, his assets have decreased by more than 50% to just over $9 billion, most likely due to the recent sharp drop in oil prices. This sharp passive loss may also fuel his claim that the value of his stocks only went up because oil prices climbed over the decades since he started the company in the 1960s. Although the couple was legally separated in 2012 (despite filing for divorce twice beforehand), Hamm has attempted to get the legal separation date restated as 2003 so that Arnall would not be entitled to anything accrued after that date. This change would have been substantial, considering Continental went public in 2007.
The Ex-Wife’s Case
Following the award, Arnall asserted that the settlement amount is less than 10% of the wealth that was accrued during their 26-year marriage. Although Hamm started the company before their marriage, it was only valued at $50 million when they got married. Furthermore, as a former executive of Continental, she pointed out that she was instrumental in amassing this fortune. A lawyer at the company, Arnall was involved in winning lawsuits against competitors. She worked at Continental from the 1980s until 2008, including time spent as a manager. The couple had no pre- or post-nuptial agreement, and Arnall contends that Hamm refused to put property in both of their names during their marriage. Arnall has subpoenaed documents in an attempt to establish Hamm’s business savvy to show that he was instrumental in increasing the company value and to show that the gains were not merely passive.
No matter how complicated your divorce, we can help. For help with your case or in any other aspect of family law , you can turn to the Law Office of Renkin & Associates for the help that you deserve. We are prepared to answer your questions and fight for your assets.