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Without prenup wife may walk away with $3 billion in divorce

9413867_s.jpgWhen it comes to divorce in Illinois, the state is an "equitable distribution" state. This means that property and other assets are not necessarily divided equally. This can increase the need for proper representation when it comes to dividing up marital property. 

Recently, the divorce filing of oil baron billionaire Harold Hamm and his wife Sue Ann has left many wondering just how much she will walk away with and what Hamm's future stake with Continental Resources will look like. As of right now, he has 68 percent stake in Continental and has a good deal of control since he is the single largest stakeholder.

It is estimated that Hamm is worth $11 billion. Through this divorce, there is a chance his ex-wife could end up with more than $3 billion, which would make her one of the top 20 richest women in the U.S. She would end up being ranked higher than Oprah Winfrey, who has an estimated worth of $2.8 billion.

The reason behind this possibility for Sue Ann is due to the fact that the couple never signed a prenuptial agreement before getting married 25 years ago. Had there been a prenuptial agreement, this agreement would have more clearly laid out how assets were to be divided in the case of a divorce, which could have meant a lot less than $3 billion for Sue Ann.

Looking to the future, the process of property division in this divorce may end up being rather long and drawn out. At this point though, the couple has been able to come to an agreement on when their separation was -- May 18, 2012 -- and have agreed to a no-fault divorce, meaning Sue Ann is not going to try to prove infidelity.

Of course many Illinois residents reading this post may not be able to relate to the idea of having to divide up billions of dollars. However, the basic premise of having to divide up property would be the same in any divorce with assets and no prenuptial agreement. This is where an attorney could step in to explain the different options in order to reach a fair divorce settlement.

Source: Reuters, "No prenup could cost oil baron billions in divorce," June 14, 2013

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