How would you like to receive $1 billion in a divorce judgment? Most people would be elated with such an outcome, or at the very least, satisfied. For one Oklahoma woman, however, the prospect of a $1 billion divorce judgment was “disappointing.”
Earlier this year, Sue Ann Hamm, the former wife of oil billionaire Harold Hamm, received a ruling from an Oklahoma court that awarded almost $1 billion in the woman’s divorce from her husband. Mrs. Hamm believes, however, that the award was not fair, and she plans on appealing the decision. Mrs. Hamm might have a strong case because a much larger judgment had been expected, anywhere from $4 billion to $8 billion.
Mrs. Hamm believes the decision was unfair because the couple was married for 26 years with two children and they did not have a prenuptial agreement. Moreover, Mrs. Hamm’s former husband apparently is worth $20 billion. In comparison to her former husband’s worth, the nearly $1 billion, Mrs. Hamm contends, is not representative of the “dedicated 25 years as [her former husband’s] faithful partner in family and business.”
At trial, the lawyers for Mrs. Hamm and the lawyers for her former husband painted two different pictures. The attorneys for Mrs. Hamm argued that her former husband’s wealth and success of his oil business was in large part due to the skill and hard work of Mrs. Hamm. Mrs. Hamm held various executive positions in her former husband’s oil company. Conversely, the attorneys for Mr. Hamm argued that he owned and grew the company for 20 years prior to the marriage. And, they also argued that much of Mr. Hamm’s wealth was out of his or his former wife’s control because of rising oil prices.
Division of Property and Assets Under Ohio Divorce Law
Under Ohio law, generally all assets accumulated by either spouse during the course of the marriage are considered marital assets and are subject to equitable division by a court. The parties, however, may choose to exclude certain assets from marital property by entering into a premarital agreement, otherwise known as a prenuptial agreement or “prenup.”
Ohio law defines “marriage” as “the period of time from the date of the marriage through the date of the final hearing in an action for divorce or an action for legal separation.” A court, however, may determine that these dates would be inequitable and may select dates that it considers equitable in determining marital property.
When dividing marital assets, a court will divide the assets equally, which means that each spouse is considered to have contributed equally to the production and acquisition of marital property. Therefore, regardless of how marital property is titled or procured during the marriage, the spouses share equally in the property. Under certain circumstances, a court has the power to not divide property equally and to award one spouse a greater amount of property. Examples of when this may occur are if a spouse has engaged in financial misconduct or failed to disclose assets in a divorce proceeding.
Contact a Cleveland, Ohio Divorce Law Attorney
If you are going through a divorce or have questions regarding the division of marital property in Ohio, Laubacher & Co.’s experienced Cleveland divorce law attorneys can help answer your questions. Our Ohio divorce law attorneys can help protect your rights to make sure that you recover your fair share of marital property. Contact our Cleveland divorce law attorneys today for a free consultation.