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Oil tycoon's ex-wife appeals $995 million settlement

People in Missouri who heard about the divorce of oil tycoon Harold Hamm and his now ex-wife Sue Ann Hamm might be interested to learn that after being awarded a divorce settlement worth $995 million on Nov. 10, Hamm has decided to appeal. Harold Hamm is the CEO of Continental Resources, a company he founded in 1967. Sue Ann Hamm claims that since the value of company stock increased to $18 billion while the Hamms were married, she deserves a larger piece in the divorce settlement.

According to Bloomberg News, the value of the settlement was much lower than what a judge could have given Sue Ann Hamm. The nearly $1 billion settlement equates to only 6 percent of the marital assets accumulated during 26 years of marriage. One divorce attorney told Bloomberg that an amount of between one-fourth and one-third of the marital wealth would be appropriate in a case like Hamm's. Had the judge followed that guideline, Hamm could have been given as much as $5.1 billion.

Hamm met her former husband while working as an attorney for Continental. Harold Hamm owns 68 percent of the company. Thanks to the judge's decision regarding the settlement, he will continue to remain in control of Continental. Had his ex-wife been given a larger settlement, Hamm might have lost control. If appealed, the case could take years to be resolved and might be heard by the Oklahoma Supreme Court or a State Court of Appeals panel.

Pursuing a divorce could give people the fresh start they need, but the process can be emotionally difficult to get through. It is often challenging to figure out what assets are most important to an individual and how to agree on a settlement. An attorney could offer useful advice to help people decide what they need in a divorce agreement and then negotiate to get those needs met.

Source: CBS News, "Divorce, 1 percent style: a $1 billion settlement appeal", November 14, 2014

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