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Courts poised to award record divorce payout

Family lawyers in Texas are watching with interest as Harold Hamm, a self-made billionaire, could pay out the largest divorce award in history to his wife of more than a quarter of a century. Previously, the largest divorce judgment in the world of $4.5 billion was granted to a Russian oligarch's wife in May. Hamm earned almost all of his $20.2 billion during their marriage. One New York attorney, who does not represent either party, speculated that the 58-year-old Mrs. Hamm could receive between $4 and $8 billion, easily eclipsing the previous record.

The couple is battling out their differences in sealed proceedings in the high-asset divorce in an Oklahoma City court. The judge ordered closed hearings in order to protect the couple's business interests. According to Forbes, the 68-year-old Hamm is listed as no. 39 in terms of wealth in the world. He started a company that helped develop fracking and served as an energy advisor to Mitt Romney in 2012.

Another local family attorney, also uninvolved in the case, said the courts will consider two key points. They will look at significant dates regarding when assets will be divided. This will be critical as the worth of the business has increased significantly during recent years. They will also look at how much Mrs. Hamm did for company growth. Although he owned much of business before the pair wed, she served as an executive and a partner in the business.

Property division is a key consideration when a marriage ends. A family lawyer might work with a client to determine their contributions to a family business so that assets can be divided fairly during a divorce.

Source: CNN Money, "Oil tycoon could face record divorce judgment", Steve Hargreaves, August 12, 2014

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