Robert G. Smith, PLLC

Hamm divorce could involve $17 billion in assets

Property division becomes more complex as the number and type of assets increase. For many New Yorkers, their home and a few bank and investment accounts encompass most of their assets that would be subject to property division in a divorce.

If you are a business owner, the stakes can increase exponentially. The divorce of Harold Hamm is one that may require exponents to be used when discussing the assets at stake. An economic analysis performed by the Sue Ann Hamm's financial expert argues that $17 billion will be subject to division in their divorce.

The majority of the assets consists of Continental Resources, the company Hamm started and of which he holds a 68 percent of share. Her expert argues that the vast majority of the appreciation of the company was due his active efforts.

This would is important because this growth is what is subject to division as marital property under Oklahoma law. When the couple married in 1988, the company was valued at no more than $50 million, while today it tops $27 billion making this truly a high net worth divorce.

Ironically, his experts will have to demonstrate that he is the luckiest man alive and that the appreciation was due to factors beyond his control and not his business acumen. His attorneys have submitted thousands of documents to the court in an effort to show this, and the judge has sealed access to much of the record as confidential business records.

If her expert's numbers are accepted, it could have implications for control of Continental, as he could be forced to liquidate some of his ownership interest to pay her share of the settlement.

Because of the business implications and with this amount of money in play, it is unlikely that a quick resolution will be forthcoming.

Source:, "Exclusive - Wife defines stakes in Oklahoma divorce: $17 billion," Heidi Brandes and Joshua Schneyer, August 15, 2014

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