May 21 2015

The Billion-Dollar Divorce – She Shouldn’t Have Cashed the Check!

Written by: Admin

billion-dollar divorceAs reported on Bloomberg.com, a staggering divorce award of nearly one billion dollars cannot be appealed, but not for reasons you might suspect.

Oklahoma Judge Howard Haralson in November of 2014 gave the bulk of the assets and investments of Harlod Hamm and Sue Ann Arnall to Mr. Hamm, founder of Continental Resources, Inc., including his majority stake in his Oklahoma City-based company. Divorce attorneys around the country expressed surprise that the billionaire’s wife hadn’t received a larger share of the family’s estate, having predicted she might get as much as 30 percent. The family’s estate is valued at approximately $16 billion.

Ms. Arnall was not happy with the judgment. She immediately filed an appeal, seeking a larger award. However, in late April of this year, her appeal was dismissed. According to Bloomberg.com, Sue Ann Arnall, Hamm’s wife for 26 years, “forfeited her right to appeal by cashing a check for the judgment in January.” According to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Arnall “voluntarily accepted the benefits of the judgment,” the court said in dismissing her appeal.

Arnall initially rejected Hamm’s check of $995 million, but later cashed it in January 2015. Her attorneys indicated this did not preclude her right to appeal, but that she was only protecting real estate values awarded to her by the divorce court.

Two dissenting judges called the ruling in favor of the Continental Resources Inc. founder and chief executive a “draconian approach to divorce law comparable to the manner cases were resolved in centuries past,” reports the Oklahoman.

Although Hamm founded his oil company, Continental Resources, some 20 years before the couple married in 1988, most of its growth has occurred since then, Reuters says. Arnall was a lawyer at the company at the time of the marriage and has since served in a number of executive positions. Hamm is Continental’s chief executive and chairman of its board.

What are your thoughts? Should Ms. Arnall not be allowed to go forward with her appeal, simply because she deposited the $995 million? Are your feelings influenced by the size of the award?

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