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Can a $1 Billion Divorce Settlement be Disappointing?

With the median wealth for an American household at roughly $90,000, a satisfying divorce settlement may be in the tens of thousands of dollars (or more or even less, depending on the situation). Many people may be blown away when they hear of celebrity divorce settlements worth millions of dollars and that include vacation homes, luxury vehicles, and more. For this reason, it may be difficult for people to understand how someone could be disappointed with a court ruling awarding them almost $1 billion in their divorce.

One of the Largest Divorce Settlements in History

In early November 2014, an Oklahoma judge ruled that Harold Hamm must pay his wife, Sue Ann, almost $1 billion as the settlement in their divorce. Hamm is the CEO and majority shareholder of oil giant Continental Resources. He and his wife were married for 26 years and had no prenuptial agreement. Hamm is expected to fork over a lump sum of $320 million immediately and pay the rest of at $7 million per month.

Though the settlement will gradually make Sue Ann one of the wealthiest women in America, she has called the ruling disappointing and plans to appeal. Some divorce experts agree that the ruling was shockingly small. Though disappointment with $1 billion may be hard to relate to, we have to examine how the law should apply to the Hamm’s divorce.

Property division laws in Oklahoma (and in Florida) require property division in a divorce to be “fair and equitable.” There are numerous factors a court must consider, including how much of the assets were amassed by marital skill and labor. This not only takes into account the spouse who owned the company from which the wealth came, but also the skill and support of a spouse who made substantial non-financial contributions, such as raising children and managing the household so the other could work full-time.

The Hamms reportedly have a net worth of approximately $18 billion, most of which stems from Harold’s stock in Continental. The ruling awards Sue Ann only 6 percent of that worth, even though most of their wealth was amassed during their marriage. Most wives are awarded 25-30 percent of the worth as a settlement.

The ruling apparently stemmed from Hamm’s argument that most of his earnings came from “passive” factors, such as the oil market, and not from actual skill or labor on his part–or the part of his wife, for that matter. Other divorce attorneys mused that perhaps the court was hesitant to award an even larger divorce settlement considering the magnitude of the marital estate. Either way, we will keep an eye on the imminent appeal.

Contact an Experienced Tampa Divorce Attorney for Assistance

At the All Family Law Group in Tampa, our experienced divorce attorneys understand that every divorce is different. A settlement that may be excessive in one situation and may be inadequate in another, and we work to meet the needs of each individual client. If you are facing a divorce please do not hesitate to contact our Tampa Bay office by calling 813-816-2232 for a complimentary consultation at no charge.

By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+

All Family Law Group, P.A.
The law firm of All Family Law Group (Lynette Silon-Laguna, P.A.) provides legal services to the cities of Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon, Riverview, Lakeland, Valrico, Gibsonton, Lithia, Mango, Palm River, Plant City, Seffner, Sun City Center, Apollo Beach, Ruskin, Temple Terrace, Carrollwood, Thonotosassa, Lutz, FishHawk, MacDill Air Force Base, and all of Hillsborough, Pinellas & Polk Counties.

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