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Billion-dollar divorce: was husband brilliant businessman or just lucky?

Nineteen billion dollar fortune at stake

Reuters reports that the Oklahoma County Court is hearing what may result in the largest ever divorce settlement. The husband, Harold Hamm, is the CEO and founder of Continental Resources, an oil company in which his 68% shareholding is valued at about $19 billion. He has been married to his wife, Sue Ann, for 26 years.

It is claimed that for years the company has touted the leadership skills and commercial judgment of its CEO. However, it is believed that lawyers for the businessman will now argue that the increase in value of his shareholding, from about $16 million on the divorce from his first wife 27 years ago, is the product of market factors beyond his control, including the rising price of oil.

The division of assets between the couple is dependent on the definition of 'marital wealth' in Oklahoma family law. Since the couple are said not to have signed a prenuptial agreement, the increase in their net assets derived from the work efforts of either spouse is considered marital wealth and subject to an 'equitable' division, which could result in a 50-50 split.

The hearing is expected to last nine weeks.

The Reuters article is here.