Energy tycoon’s divorce case centers on division of assets

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Property Division on Monday, March 31, 2014.

Sometimes celebrity-related stories regarding family law topics are more than purely entertaining. For many people, indeed, they can be highly instructive and broadly relevant, notwithstanding the sometimes singularly large dimensions of what is at stake.

Take the unfolding divorce drama of multibillionaire Harold Hamm and his wife Sue Ann Hamm, for instance. Although some people might reasonably argue that the Hamms are not a celebrity couple in the most popular sense (think Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), very few couples can match the Hamms for sheer clout and the assets under their control.

In other words, they are a true “power” couple commanding a nearly incomprehensible amount of wealth, and their divorce battle is instantly notable for the outsized dimensions of its property division considerations.

How wealthy are the Hamms? Consider that Harold Hamm reportedly has about a 66 percent stake in Continental Resources Inc., which is reputed to be the largest leaseholder of oil-rich properties in the developing Bakken Shale area of North Dakota. Bloomberg lists the Oklahoma native’s net worth at $17.5 billion.

The question that looms large in the Hamm’s divorce contest is this: How much of that wealth will transfer to Sue Ann Hamm?

Oklahoma, like Illinois and Missouri, is a so-called equitable distribution state, meaning that a judge will seek to divide marital assets in a divorce based on what is fair.

In the Hamms’ divorce, what is reportedly key is the court’s upcoming determination concerning the dramatic increase in value in Harold Hamm’s stocks held in Continental Resources. The value of Hamm’s stake has grown by about $13 billion since the company’s initial public offering in 2007. Hamm bought the stock before he married.

Hamm gets to keep all the run up in value that the court determines has owed to passive market conditions. Conversely, equitable division will play into what has been termed the “marital portion of non-passive enhanced value,” meaning that some portion of the increased value that owes to Hamm’s business acumen will go his soon-to-be ex.

How much that might be is the central question in the Hamms’ divorce. We will keep readers posted on the outcome, which promises to be — just like the Hamms’ wealth — outsized.

Source: Tulsa World, “Divorce could affect Oklahoma billionaire Harold Hamm’s controlling stake in oil company,” Bloomberg News, March 20, 2014

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