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Oil Baron ordered to pay almost $1 billion in divorce

Colorado readers of this blog may recall previous posts which have commented on the high asset divorce of oil billionaire Harold Hamm and his wife. Earlier this month, and after a three-month trial, an Oklahoma judge issued a long-awaited order in the hard-fought divorce case. Under the judge's ruling, Hamm must pay his ex-wife a total of $995.5 million. About one-third of that total must be paid by the end of this year. The remainder is to be paid in monthly installments of about $7 million each. The court had previously awarded Hamm's wife about $25 million since the case was filed.

Hamm is the CEO of Continental Resources, one of the major players in the Bakken oil fields of Montana and North Dakota. The judge has put a lien on 20 million shares of Continental stock to ensure Hamm pays the award.

Hamm's ex-wife had argued through her attorneys that she and Hamm should split the $17.6 billion by which Hamm's shares had appreciated in value since the couple married in 1988. If the court had done so, Hamm would have been forced to sell off a large portion of his Continental shares, which could have resulted in him losing control of the company.

Hamm has the right to appeal the court's ruling. Whether he will do so remains to be seen.

In Colorado, property is divided according to the principle of equitable distribution. Marital property, which is any property either party acquired during the marriage is divided in a manner the court deems fair. Any property which a spouse owned before the marriage remains that spouse's separate property. Any appreciation in the value of separate property which occurs during the marriage - as with Hamm's Continental stock - is considered marital property and subject to equitable distribution.

Source: NBC News, "Oil Mogul Harold Hamm to Pay Wife $995 Million in Divorce," Nov. 10, 2014

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