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Making The Complex Understandable

Does deposited check mark end of billionaire couple's divorce?

Seldom has a deposited check gotten so much media attention. However, that was the case with the nearly $975 million check dated Jan. 5 written by billionaire oil man Harold Hamm to his now-ex-wife Sue Ann Arnall.

The check made big news not just because of its size and because it is among the largest divorce settlements ever in our country. However, it made news also because Arnall had recently said that she would appeal the decision that awarded her approximately $1 billion in assets and cash.

In the appeal, she stated that her husband, whom she married in 1988, was allowed to keep more than 90 percent of the wealth accumulated during their marriage. Hamm owns more than two-thirds of his company, Continental Resources. Although Hamm owned the company when he got married, the value of his stock in it grew some 400-fold during the marriage. She believed that she was owed a significantly larger percentage of that increased value.

Hamm, however, also appealed the ruling on the grounds that with the recent drop in oil prices, his company was actually worth billions less than it was during last year's trial. At that time, his share of the company was valued at $19 billion. Now it's said to be worth about $9 billion.

Does depositing the check, which covers the amount Hamm owed his ex-wife based on the judge's ruling late last year (plus interest) mean that she is dropping the appeal and that he too has accepted the ruling? Arnall hasn't commented publicly. However, Hamm's attorney says, "It means she's done and should dismiss her appeal." He says that his client wants the case to be over.

While most Connecticut couples aren't fighting over billions of dollars, some of the same questions as this case brought up may still be relevant. For example, how much did one spouse play a role in another spouse's financial success? When a spouse's assets rise or fall significantly after a divorce trial, should that be reflected in his or her support payments? Experienced Connecticut family law attorneys can help clients deal with these and many more issues as they work towards an appropriate settlement.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Harold Hamm's Ex-Wife Cashes $975 Million Divorce Check After All" Joshua Schneyer, Reuters, Jan. 08, 2015

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