Ex-wife of U.S. Oil Baron to Appeal $1B Divorce Award

By Joshua Schneyer Nov 13, 2014, 4:56 PM 

(Reuters) – Sue Ann Hamm, the ex-wife of Oklahoma oil magnate Harold Hamm who was awarded cash and assets worth more than $1 billion in the couple’s divorce this week, plans to appeal the judgment on grounds that it grossly undervalues the marital wealth she is entitled to.

Claiming she was shortchanged by a ruling that allows the Continental Resources (CLR) chief executive officer to keep nearly all of an estimated $18 billion rise in his Continental shares during a 26-year marriage, Sue Ann Hamm plans to appeal the decision, Ron Barber, one of the attorneys on her legal team, told Reuters on Thursday.

The decision was “not equitable,” he said.

On Monday, Oklahoma County Court Judge Howard Haralson ordered the Continental Resources CEO to pay his ex-wife $995 million and allowed her to keep additional assets, including a California ranch and an Oklahoma home, worth tens of millions more.

The Hamm v. Hamm divorce judgment is one of the largest in U.S. history, but the award to Sue Ann is a small fraction of the wealth Haralson allowed Harold Hamm to keep. The CEO holds more than 68 percent of Continental’s stock, a stake valued at around $13.5 billion today. It was worth more than $18 billion before the 9 1/2-week divorce trial began in August. Continental shares have fallen sharply since then, in line with global oil prices.

Haralson ruled that $1.4 billion of the growth in his Continental shares during the marriage was “marital capital” to be split with Sue Ann. The rest was awarded to Harold as “separate property.”

“Sue Ann is disappointed in the outcome of this case. She dedicated 25 years as Harold’s faithful partner in family and business,” Barber told Reuters. “She plans to appeal the court’s decision.”

A lawyer and economist, Sue Ann Hamm worked at Continental during stretches of the couple’s marriage, which began in 1988.

In Oklahoma, a divorce appeal can be heard by a State Court of Appeals panel or the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

A higher court could review the case and affirm Haralson’s judgment, or modify the award. It could also send the case back to Haralson to be re-tried.

Family law experts say the process could take anywhere from 18 months to several years.

As part of Monday’s ruling, Haralson ordered Harold Hamm to pay his ex-wife more than $322 million by Dec. 31, and continue with monthly payments of at least $7 million until he covers an additional $650 million balance. She has received around $23 million from the marital estate since filing for divorce in 2012.

To secure the judgment, Haralson placed a lien on 20 million shares of the CEO’s Continental stock.

Earlier this week, Craig Box, an attorney for Harold Hamm, said the CEO considered Haralson’s ruling “fair and equitable.”

Whether an appeal would alter the payment schedule remains unclear.

(Editing by Jonathan Leff and Douglas Royalty)


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