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Judge deflates what could have been a billion dollar divorce

In what could have been one of the largest divorce settlements in U.S. history, a judge has determined that oil man Harold Hamm’s 70 percent interest in Continental Resources is non-marital property.

The judge ruled that because Hamm owned 122 million shares of the company before tying the knot more than 25 years ago, the shares are considered separate property.

When it was announced that the couple was splitting last year, there was speculation that Hamm could potentially lose his controlling stake in Continental because his wife would have been entitled to up to half if it was deemed marital property.

However, in the order, which granted partial summary judgment in the divorce case, the judge ruled that the shares Hamm owned “prior to the marriage” would not be subject to division during the divorce.

In an interview with Forbes, Hamm said he was not surprised with the judge’s decision. “Although it did represent a lot of value, it is obviously premarital,” he said.

Hamm, who is worth an estimated $14.6 billion, founded Oklahoma-based Continental Resources shortly before marrying his wife, Sue Ann, without the protection of a prenuptial agreement.

Although Hamm told Forbes that he would “definitely not” be getting married again in the future, if he changes his mind he will definitely not want to forget to enter a prenuptial agreement the next time around.

Shares of Continental have gone up 400 percent over the past five years and Hamm told Forbes that his company, which focuses on the Bakken shale of North Dakota, will likely double its oil output in the next five years as well.

Harold and Sue Ann will now focus trying to settle the remaining issues to their divorce out of court, which will keep the details confidential.

Source: Forbes, “Judge: Billionaire Hamm To Retain Control Of Continental Resources In Divorce Settlement,” Christopher Helman, March 4, 2014

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