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Hamm alimony case disposition could be months away

Any Arkansas resident who has gone through divorce knows how painful it can be, even if the couple’s assets were nothing out of the ordinary — perhaps a house, cars, bank accounts and retirement plans. Now imagine the anger that might come with dividing millions of dollars in assets. Now, further imagine the deep resentments if that amount were multiplied again by thousands. This is the magnitude of the dispute between oil billionaire Harold Hamm and his ex-wife Sue Ann Arnall over his net worth and how much he might owe her, if she wins an alimony appeal.

The final disposition of the largest divorce settlement in U.S. history is still to come. In January, Arnall cashed a check for nearly $1 billion from her ex-husband, but is still appealing a Nov. 2014 Oklahoma court decision that limited her alimony to about 10 percent of Hamm’s fortune.

Arnall and her attorneys are arguing that she deserves far more given her 27-year marriage to Hamm and her work as a corporate attorney and company executive at Continental Resources, the oil-exploration and oil-management company founded by Hamm in 1990. She also does not believe that Hamm’s worth fell as much as he claims — from approximately $16.1 billion to $11.3 billion — because of falling oil prices in 2014. Legal experts were surprised Arnall was not awarded 30 percent of Hamm’s assets.

For his part, Hamm is asking that Arnall’s appeal be dismissed. According to the couple’s alimony agreement, he says, Arnall lost the right to appeal when she cashed the alimony check for $975 million he sent her late last year. Hamm said that Arnall was aware of this stipulation in the couple’s agreement.

As this family law case shows, conflict between former spouses may be proportional to the assets being disputed. But, an attorney may be able to help.

Source: Bloomberg Business, “Hamm Ex-Wife Says Cashing Alimony Check Doesn’t End Appeal,” Margaret Cronin Fisk, Jan. 28, 2015

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