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One of largest the U.S. divorces continues with second appeal

On some basic level, many divorces involve the same controversy, conflict and disagreement, regardless of whether the couple is excessively wealthy or of more moderate means. However, significant wealth, property, assets, or business interests can complicate things considerably, and many high asset divorces involve issues and factors that are not present in other divorces. One example is the continuing saga of the divorce of an oil magnate and his ex-wife.

The divorce between Harold Hamm, the chief executive of Continental Resources, and his ex-wife, Sue Ann Arnall, who was a former executive in the oil company, has been described as one of the largest divorce cases in U.S. history. His ex-wife appealed the initial divorce settlement and the result of that appeal was a $1 billion settlement for Arnall. Her appeal was based on the claim that a majority of Hamm's present wealth in the company had been built with her help. Although Hamm's initial response to the $1 billion settlement was that it was "fair and equitable," the latest development involves Hamm's recent appeal of the divorce ruling. His appeal-and change of mind-is said to be due, in part, to the recent significant decline in his wealth due to falling oil prices.

One of the primary disputes in a high asset divorce is property division and the ultimate divorce settlement. This is often because many wealthy couples have significant business interests. In these cases, there is a need not only to accurately determine the value of the business and any accompanying assets but also to determine what is classified as marital property and how much one spouse contributed to the other spouse's accumulation of wealth. In many cases, the services of forensic accountants are required to fair and equitably decide how to divide interests and ownership.

It is important to negotiate as much as possible and work toward an agreeable settlement from the outset because subsequent appeals to an initial divorce settlement only prolongs the process, needlessly dragging out the divorce and increasing the costs associated with the divorce. An experienced attorney can help a divorcing client fight to protect his or her financial interests while also striving for efficiency and quick resolution, so that both parties can begin to move forward and leave the divorce behind them.

Source: Business Insider, "Oil Tycoon Who Accepted A $1 Billion Divorce Settlement Backtracks After Losing A Bunch of Money On Oil," Joshua Schneyer, Dec. 30, 2014

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