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Oil baron's divorce among the costliest in history

Back in August, we wrote about the impending divorce case of self-made oil baron Harold Hamm. At that time, commentators were saying that the Oklahoma fracking tycoon's divorce could be one of the most expensive split-ups in history. This was being said because, according to Hamm's wife, his business has increased its wealth by $17 billion since the couple was married 25 years ago. Depending on the way Oklahoma property division was to be applied in the case, a lot was potentially at stake.

In Oklahoma, money which is earned by the efforts of one party can be subject to division, while property gained because of economic circumstances outside that individual's control is deemed separate. With Hamm's reputation as a self-made man, it was a hard sell to argue that he accidentally came into his wealth.

Earlier this week, we heard that the predictions were indeed true: Hamm's divorce was among the most expensive in history, as he will have to pay his ex-wife nearly $1 billion under the divorce settlement. One-third of that amount is coming to Sue Ann Hamm by the end of the year, and the rest will be paid out in monthly payments of no less than $7 million. That is in addition to the nearly $25 million Harold has paid her since the divorce was filed in 2012.

Unfortunately for Mr. Hamm, there was no prenuptial agreement to keep state property division law at bay. The decision not to have such protection was obviously a costly one.

Source: The New York Times, "An Oklahoma Oilman's Billion-Dollar Divorce," David Segal, Nov. 10, 2014.

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