For most readers here in Massachusetts, a billion dollars is only an abstract concept that is impossible to conceive of in real life. But for a select few, a billion dollar transaction is a part of daily life. When these billionaires decide to divorce, their complex property division settlements often make national news.
In 1999, Rupert Murdoch divorced his wife and entered into a $1.7 billion settlement. At the time this was the largest divorce settlement in the history of the U.S.
Now, a new high asset divorce is likely to surpass Murdoch's previous record by several billion. Harold Hamm is the CEO of Continental Resources, a successful oil company. Hamm is not a household name in Massachusetts, but he is considered one of the most influential men in the country. This is because Hamm is reportedly worth $11.2 billion.
After being accused of cheating on his wife, Hamm and his spouse are now at the beginning of what will likely be a very high asset divorce. High asset divorces can be particularly complex. When there are considerable assets, property division can be difficult for two main reasons. First, there is the practical problem that there is simply so much more money and property to value and divide in high asset divorces than in average divorces. Second, those with a lot of assets tend to have complex financial arrangements that include international assets, interests in businesses, trusts and other exotic financial products.
With so much money at stake, high asset divorces also have the potential to be much more contentious than the average divorce. Each spouse becomes more willing to fight for the billions that are at stake.
Given the complexity of high asset divorces, and the potential for them to be contentious, knowledgeable professionals can be quite helpful in guiding each spouse through the divorce process.
Source: Examiner.com, "Record divorce: $11.2 billion fortune on line with Sue Ann and Harold Hamm split," Stacy Carey, March 23, 2013