In what has been one of the most expensive divorce settlements of all time, the wife of oil baron Harold Hamm received nearly $1 billion in a court ruling issued in early November. However, Sue Ann Hamm’s attorney says she will appeal this amount, as it represents only about 6 percent of the fortune she and her husband, Harold Hamm, have amassed over the course of their 26-year marriage.
The divorce has grabbed headlines this year, as the amount Mr. Hamm stood to lose in the case was, at one point, estimate to exceed $8 billion. That would have made it the most expensive divorce in recorded history, topping the $4.5 billion payout in the divorce settlement of Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev earlier in 2014.
But according to news reports, the amount awarded in the Hamm case was lower than expected due to the court’s opinion that a substantial portion Mr. Hamm’s fortune was earned passively. In other words, he was not an active participant in the recent growth of his company, Continental Resources, which has capitalized in a major way on the shale oil boom over the past few years.
This decision has surprised some divorce attorneys, as many of Mr. Hamm’s employees have painted him as a micromanager who insisted that he personally sign off on new drilling opportunities. He is also known as one of the first people to recognize the potential of “fracking,” and some have even estimated that he owns more oil in the ground than any other human being on earth.
Although the recent ruling was a win for Harold Hamm, the divorce case appears to be far from over. It will be interesting to see if any appeals filed by Sue Ann Hamm are successful in the months to come.
High-asset divorces are often very complex, especially when it comes to alimony and the division of marital assets and property. For the information and guidance you need when going through a divorce with a lot at stake, consult an experienced Stamford family law attorney with Siegel, Reilly & Kaufman, LLC.