$1-billion divorce settlement offers lessons to Californians

By |2022-04-06T19:01:40+00:0026 Jan 2015|Categories: Marital Contract, Prenuptial Agreements|

$1-billion divorce settlement offers lessons to Californians

The recent Harold and Sue Ann Hamm divorce settlement, worth nearly $1 billion, is about a lot more than money. Californians can take away one hard lesson from the saga of this high-profile couple, plan ahead. A newly married couple may feel that only bliss awaits them in marriage and that financial matters will sort themselves out, but a prenuptial agreement is a simple way to acknowledge a stark reality, 50 percent of marriages now fail.

When an Oklahoma court awarded ex-wife Sue Hamm $975 million from Harold Hamm’s oil fortune, now estimated at more than $9 billion, most observers were shocked. When Sue Hamm appealed the ruling on the grounds that Hamm was worth far more and owed her because of her contributions as attorney and executive at his oil-drilling and exploration company, these same observers were incredulous.

However, the divorce case offers a succinct lesson about the difference between marital property and separate property. A prenuptial agreement might have saved Harold Hamm a considerable amount had it spelled out exactly what was marital property and what was separate property. Basically, properties obtained during marriage are marital property. Separate property can become jointly owned if it is treated as a gift to the marital estate or increases in value through the efforts of the other spouse. In this case, it is possible much of the conflict over property division and which properties were marital or separate could have been avoided by a prenup.

A prenuptial agreement can override state laws, particularly those that apply to the division of assets. For business owners, a prenup may allow them to keep personal property separate from marital property. The agreement can also clarify each spouse’s financial rights and interests.

Source: Investment News, “Lessons from the $1B divorce case: How to split business assets“, Darla Mercado, Jan. 13, 2015

About the Author:

Dorie Anne Rogers - The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC
Dorie A. Rogers, a Family Law Specialist, Certified by the State Bar of California, has been an attorney since 1981 with an exclusive family law practice located in Orange County. She is accepting dissolution cases with support and property issues including the use of forensics to ascertain business value, community interests and to establish monthly case flow analysis. Ms. Rogers has substantial experience in high conflict custody litigation involving sophisticated psychological issues. She drafts premarital and postmarital agreement designed to define and establish parties' separate and community property interests. Paternity cases and domestic violence matters are considered part of her practice. Ms. Rogers is a court-approved and court-appointed to represent minor children.Ms. Rogers consults with individuals concerned about entering or exiting a relationship. She advises effective strategies for dissolution or premarital planning. Knowledge is power and good planning affords better results.Specialties: Family Law Specialist, Certified by the State Bar of California
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