Billion dollar divorce settlement is a “victory” for oil tycoon

November 21, 2014

And you thought your divorce was messy.

An oil tycoon will pay his wife of 26 years $995.5 million, a third of which is required by the end of the year. Following, he’ll be required to pay $7 million per month until the balance is paid.

Harold Hamm and Sue Ann Hamm just couldn’t seem to work out their issues despite sleeping on beds of money (as if that was ever foundation enough for resting easy). In 2012, the couple decided to separate due to “mutually irreconcilable incompatibility”, lawyer jargon for “they couldn’t stand the sight of one another”.

Well, to say that they agreed to separate may not be entirely accurate. It was actually Sue Ann Hamm who sued for divorce, and it took an Oklahoma City court 10-weeks at trial to sort out the finances.

Some of the high dollar assets and their allocation include:

Awarded to Sue Ann

  • $4.7 Million home in Nichols Hills, Oklahoma
  • $15 Million ranch in Carmel Valley, California
  • $800,000 house in Enid, Oklahoma purchased in 1989
  • All of the couple’s livestock except two prize horses valued at $400,000
  • Total asset and cash value of approximately $1 billion

Awarded to Harold Hamm

  • $750,000 home in Branson, Montana
  • $4.3 million skyscraper The Continental Tower North in Indianapolis, Indiana
  • $300,000 log cabin
  • $400,000 prize horses
  • $10 million jet
  • Collection of family effects, guns, books and hand tools
  • Total asset value of approximately $2 billion

Despite appearances and the curb appeal of $1 billion, Harold Hamm was actually more or less the victor in this case. The 68-year-old is worth an estimated $20 billion, and in cases of a divorce after 20+ years of marriage, the spouse should have (and probably had) expected a payout of approximately 25-30% of the assets (between $5 and 6 billion).

So it would seem that apparently Harold had better lawyers.

Unaffiliated commentator M. Shane Henry, partner at a Tulsa, Oklahoma family law firm, said “because of how much money we have at stake, I bet we’re looking at an appeal…It could have possibly been divided more favorably toward her, and when you’re talking about several hundred million dollars, even close to a billion dollars, I would say the expense to attempt an appeal would be justified.”

On top of the personal asset victory, Harold Hamm has also been awarded control of the company since, as one of his lawyers said, it was “…his before the marriage” in addition to witnesses identifying him as the pushing the company into success and the “captain of the ship”.

Cases like this illustrate the back-and-forth struggle between what belongs to whom and why. Sometimes taking a divorce to trial is unavoidable, but the basic and undeniable truth is that when possible, it’s much more civil and economical to arbitrate a divorce, avoiding the costly legal fees associated with the alternative.

Larry Bellomo is a Laguna Hills family, divorce and bankruptcy attorney who has served southern California for over three decades. If you’re in need of legal representation, advice or arbitration, give us a call for a free consultation and find out what Larry can do for you.