Court or­ders ty­coon to pay ex-wife only 6% of for­tune

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

JUST how much of Harold Hamm’s for­tune was amassed through his skill and hard work?

That was a key ques­tion that Ok­la­homa di­vorce judge Howard Har­al­son had to weigh in his decision last week, when he or­dered Hamm, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Con­ti­nen­tal Re­sources – and Ok­la­homa’s rich­est per­son – to hand over more than $1 bil­lion (R11bn) in cash and as­sets to his for­mer wife in one of the largest US di­vorce judg­ments.

Har­al­son awarded Sue Ann Hamm just 6 per­cent of the $18bn for­tune her lawyers say the cou­ple had amassed at the start of the di­vorce trial in Au­gust.

Harold Hamm called the judg­ment “fair and eq­ui­table”, but his for­mer wife called it un­fair and plans to ap­peal.

Sev­eral di­vorce lawyers said they were sur­prised by how small the award was.

“I would have ex­pected that a larger per­cent­age of the wealth be at­trib­uted to mar­i­tal skill and labour,” said Carolyn Thomp­son, an Ok­la­homa fam­ily law ex­pert.

“In­stead, the judge is rul­ing that the vast majority of the in­crease was at­trib­ut­able to mar­ket fac­tors out­side of Harold Hamm’s con­trol,” said Thomp­son.

Un­der Ok­la­homa law, the grow­ing value of as­sets – in­clud­ing pre­mar­i­tal prop­erty – is typ­i­cally split up if it re­sulted from the ef­forts or skills of ei­ther spouse dur­ing the mar­riage.

The Hamm mar­riage lasted 26 years, and the cou­ple had no prenup­tial agree­ment. – Reuters

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