Protracted divorce case finally settles. There’s a lesson to be learned here.
Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm wrote his ex-wife Sue Ann Arnall a personal handwritten cheque
last for $975 million. It was meant to end their lengthy divorce proceedings which have been underway since 2012.
Arnall initially rejected the cheque but Hamm’s lawyer confirmed it was deposited into an Oklahoma City bank. Attorney Craig Box stated, “We feel this is the end of the case from her perspective. It means she’s done and should dismiss her appeal.”
Married since 1988, Arnall argued that the value of Continental Resources increased some 400-fold during the 26 years of their marriage due to Hamm’s efforts as CEO. Under Oklahoma law her lawyers contended that she was due a far bigger portion of the $9 billion in shares Hamm holds in Continental than the $1 billion an Oklahoma County Court judge awarded her in November.
Hamm’s lawyer argued that the value of his shares (worth as much as $19 billion before oil prices tanked) appreciated due to factors beyond his control such as rising oil prices. Under Oklahoma law you can argue luck played a major role in the appreciation of your assets and if so, your spouse might not be entitled to any of those gains.
For average Canadians the idea of rejecting a $975 million payday seems ludicrous. After all, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Divorce proceedings that are long, drawn-out affairs tend to be emotionally draining on all the participants with only the lawyers coming out on top.
Check out this Fox Business panel
discussing whether Arnall should have ripped up the cheque of not. It’s clear this is a touchy subject with women and men alike.
So, what’s the lesson to be learned from this highly public and acrimonious divorce?
Well, if you’re an advisor who’s been in the business for a reasonable length of time, it’s a subject you’ve likely become all too familiar with. Perhaps you have specialized training in the area of divorce planning. Whatever the case, divorce statistics
suggest that 40% of marriages are projected to end before the thirtieth wedding anniversary. Although high profile cases such as the Hamm’s generally don’t come around very often whether you’re a Wealth Professional Top 50 advisor
or a rookie new to the industry, the lessons to be learned from divorce tend to be similar across all financial brackets but especially so when it comes to high net worth clients.
Hillary Kramer, one of the guests on the Fox panel nails it when she says about marriage, “Be careful and choose well.”
Arnall has 975 million reasons why she did exactly that.