Any divorce can involve difficult examinations into a couple’s life in order to determine property division. California is a community property state which means that most property acquired during the marriage is split evenly among the two in divorce. A similar product often results in equitable division of property states, where marital property is split in a way that leaves both couples in a similar financial position as the other, post-divorce. These property division concepts are now playing directly into oil baron billionaire, Harold Hamm’s, divorce.
A high asset divorce, such as the one involving Mr. Hamm and his soon to be ex-wife, can be substantially complicated. The couple resides in California and thus community property concepts apply. Not all property acquired during marriage in California is considered marital property. For example, if property is the result of increased value of separate property acquired before the marriage, it may be non-marital.
This divorce is particularly difficult because Mr. Hamm’s company, which already existed pre-marriage, also thrived during the marriage, but partially due to his wife’s entrepreneurial skills. While Mr. Hamm started his business prior to the marriage, the equity gained post marriage could be considered marital property due to her involvement. His spouse contributed substantially to the business, by seeking out drilling opportunities and provided invaluable connections.
Thus, some experts believe she may be entitled to close to half the fortune. Mr. Hamm likely disagrees but concedes that she is entitled to some of the business worth. Contributions to a thriving business might be even more attenuated in certain divorces, yet still entitle a spouse to some of the assets. For example, a spouse who maintains the household and takes care of the children permits another spouse to advance their career by focusing more on work. The line is often a difficult one for courts to draw as observed in the Hamm’s high profile divorce.
Source: Business Insider, “What every couple should learn from oil baron Harold Hamm’s record-breaking divorce,” Megan Durisin, April 3, 2013.