We’ve written previously on our Dallas family law blog about multi-billionaire Harold Hamm’s split from his wife and fellow business partner of 20 years. Hamm got in on the ground floor of the oil fields responsible for the unprecedented boom in North Dakota, which is now second in the nation in oil production only to Texas itself. The high-asset divorce gained significant attention in the media.
Recently, Hamm’s ex-wife was awarded just under $1 billion by a judge. The money would come in a $322 million installment payable by the end of 2014, with monthly payments of $7 million beginning in 2015. She also takes possession of several properties, including one home valued at nearly $17.5 million, another over $4.5 million and a third of $800,000. Hamm himself takes two less valuable properties, but other assets totaling over $2 billion.
What may come as a shock to our Dallas readers is this: Hamm’s ex-wife has indicated that she intends to appeal the judgment.
How can a divorcing spouse be unsatisfied with a billion-dollar settlement? One has to look at the context of the marriage and the business itself. The intertwining of the two lead to difficulties in property division in the first place, blurring the lines between the partners’ separate property and marital property. Particularly, the couple disputed whether the increase in value of the company during the course of the marriage should be considered marital property.
When talking about a couple reportedly worth $18 billion, the stakes are much different than a typical Dallas marriage. Hamm’s wife’s legal team has pointed out, for example, that her settlement is in fact less than 6 percent.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to truly understand what’s at stake in a divorce when looking from the outside in. There are matters that only the partners involved will have the perspective to see. But a legal professional can help divorcing couples step back and look at the big picture.