Harold Hamm's billion-dollar divorce reaches an end

High-asset divorce cases often capture the nation's attention, due to the money involved. Kentucky readers may be interested in the recent story of a billionaire's highly-publicized divorce.

The divorce between Harold Hamm, chief executive officer of Continental Resources, and his wife has been finalized to the tune of almost $1 billion. Hamm's wife was awarded over $995 million. Hamm's ex was also awarded two valuable pieces of real estate: a $4.7 million home and a ranch worth $17.5 million. She has also already received $25 million since the trial began. This makes it one of the biggest divorce judgments ever in the United States. The trial for the divorce lasted for over nine weeks.

The award does not require Hamm to sell his shares of the company, of which he owns 68 percent. This has allowed Hamm to retain his position as primary shareholder of Continental.

Despite the fact that Hamm's ex-wife may now be among the 100 wealthiest women in the country, the award is far less than what she asked for. During the proceedings she requested that a marital estate worth around $17 billion be divided between the two. Her request was denied.

The judge in the case agreed that Hamm was a key player in Continental, but did not agree that the massive increase in monetary value of the company was due to his role alone, as Hamm's ex argued. Instead the judge determined that passive factors and other managers played a role in the increase in Continental's monetary value.

The couple did not have a premarital agreement in place. They were married in 1988 and Hamm's ex served as a Continental executive for a period of time during their marriage.

As this shows, high asset divorces can sometimes be contentious. With so much on the line, both parties want to make sure their rights are protected and property division issues can become heated, especially when lucrative assets are involved. Such assets can include not only real estate and other pieces of tangible property but also stocks, business assets and retirement plans.

While sometimes a divorce needs to go to trial, this is not always the case. There are times when a couple's divorce can be settled through other methods, such as mediation, arbitration or collaborative law. Couples going through a high asset divorce should research all their options to make sure they can reach a fair end point.