$1 Billion Not Enough, Oil Baron’s Ex-Wife to Appeal Divorce Ruling

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Harold Hamm
Image Courtesy of David Shankbone

Indeed, the winner takes it all.

Sue Ann Hamm, the ex-wife of oil magnate Harold Hamm who was awarded a very hefty divorce settlement amounting to more than $1 billion in cash and assets, is planning to appeal the ruling, saying the amount undervalues the marital wealth she is entitled to.

‘Not Equitable’

In a Reuters exclusive report, Sue Ann says she is appealing the judgment because she feels shortchanged by the ruling that allows her former husband to keep about 94% of the estimated$18 billion increase in the profits of Continental Resources (ContRes).

Sue Ann will appeal within a few weeks, Ron Barber, one of her lawyers, told Reuters. She says she believes the $1 billion figure was “not equitable,” Barber said.

Substantial Divorce Settlement

On November 10, Oklahoma County Court Judge Howard Haralson ordered Harold, chief executive of Oklahoma City-based liquid petroleum producer Continental Resources, to pay Sue Ann $995 million. The order allows her to keep other assets, including a home in Oklahoma and a ranch in California, worth tens of millions.

The Hamm v. Hamm divorce judgment is one of the largest in U.S. history, but this is chump change according toSue Ann, saying it was only a small fraction of the wealth Harold Hamm was allowed to keep.

Harold’s Wealth

Harold holds more than 68 percent of ContRes’s stock, a stake worth about $13.5 billion based on today’s figures. The portfolio was worth more than $18 billion before the divorce proceedings began in August, lasting 9 1/2 weeks. Shares of ContRes have declined sharply since then, in line with global oil prices.

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Haralson ruled that $1.4 billion of the growth in his Continental shares during the marriage was “marital capital” to be split with Sue Ann. The rest was awarded to Harold as “separate property.”

“Sue Ann is disappointed in the outcome of this case. She dedicated 25 years as Harold’s faithful partner in family and business,” said Barber.

Sue Ann, who is a lawyer and economist by profession, worked at ContRes during stretches of the couple’s marriage that began in 1988. At one point, she became an executive in charge of the company’s crude marketing division, according to the ruling. She left the company in 2008, working at times at home, helping raise their two children.

Oklahoma Divorce Law

The Hamms did not have a prenuptial agreement. During their marriage, ContRes’s value climbed by around 400-fold, and Hamm, the 13th child of sharecroppers, became Oklahoma’s richest individual. The 68-year-old founded ContRes in 1967, more than twenty years before marrying Sue Ann.

Oklahoma law, however, typically requires that the enhanced value of any premarital property be split “equitably” in a divorce if the value increase is the result of the efforts or skills of either spouse during their marriage.

According to the divorce law of the Sooner State, a divorce appeal can be heard by the State Court of Appeals or the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The high court could review the case and affirm Judge Haralson’s decision, or modify the award. The Supreme Court could also send the case back to the county court to be re-tried.

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