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Lack of prenuptial agreement key factor in billionaire divorce

While any divorce can be complex and contentious, those involving couples of considerable wealth are often more so. In recent months, the divorce of oil billionaire Harold Hamm and his second wife Sue Ann has gripped the attention of many New Yorkers. With the absence of a prenuptial agreement and an estimated net worth of $11 billion dollars, the Hamm's divorce may yield the largest U.S. divorce settlement in history. 

In fact, some divorce experts believe Sue Ann Hamm may walk away with up to $3 billion when the divorce is finalized. This amount, however, may potentially even be larger as rumors have surfaced that Sue Ann has evidence to prove her soon-to-be ex-husband's infidelity. To date, court-released documents show that the couple has agreed to proceed with a no-fault divorce.

While documents related to the couple's assets and divorce have largely been kept sealed, some details related to the couple's troubled marriage and considerable wealth have been made public. Married in 1988 just six months after Hamm's first divorce was finalized, Hamm's wealth has grown from an estimated $16 million at the time the couple married to more than $11 billion.

As the Hamm's divorce and settlement process proceeds, the main point of contention will likely be when the couple's marriage was truly considered to be over as well as the role Sue Ann played in contributing to the couple's wealth. While Hamm has contended the couple really split more than a decade ago, Sue Ann's divorce attorney recently submitted documents contending the couple officially separated during 2012. This date is critical as Hamm's wealth has grown considerably within the last decade.

Another factor the divorce judge will likely take into consideration when determining the divorce settlement amount is Sue Ann's role in contributing to the couple's wealth throughout their marriage. An attorney when the couple met, Sun Ann previously held an executive position at Hamm's oil company. In the last decade, however, her role in the company has been minimal to none.

We'll continue to report on the divorce between the Hamm's as well as how the couple's lack of a prenuptial agreement may impact the divorce settlement.

Source: CNBC, "Lack of  Prenup Imperils Oil Billonaire's Fortune," June 14, 2013

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