Harold Hamm’s ex-wife, Sue Ann Arnall, has deposited a handwritten $974.8 million divorce check, the Oklahoma oil magnate’s lawyer said on January 8.
Sue Ann Arnall, 58, deposited the check after earlier this week declining the payment and pledging to pursue her appeal of a divorce ruling she viewed as unfair.
In the November ruling by an Oklahoma County Court judge, Harold Hamm, the chief executive of Continental Resources was allowed to keep his 68% stake in the company, now worth about $9 billion, while Sue Ann Arnall was awarded about $1 billion in cash and assets from the marital estate.
The check represents the entire remaining balance of what Harold Hamm owes Sue Ann Arnall based on the November ruling, including interest.
Harold Hamm’s divorce lawyer, Craig Box, said he believes Sue Ann Arnall’s deposit of the check will end her efforts to appeal the case and that Hamm also wants the case resolved.
“We have received confirmation that the check was deposited in an Oklahoma City bank,” Craig Box said.
“We feel this is the end of the case from her perspective. It means she’s done and should dismiss her appeal.”
A source close to the Hamm case confirmed the deposit, which represents one of the largest divorce awards in US history.
Earlier, Harold Hamm had filed his own appeal, seeking to have Oklahoma’s Supreme Court reduce what he owes Sue Ann Arnall, after a plunge in oil prices shaved billions from the value of his Continental shares in recent months. During a trial last year, the shares had been worth as much as $19 billion.
The Hamm case, initially filed in 2012, has pitted Oklahoma’s most successful oil wildcatter against his former wife of 26 years, an attorney and longtime executive at Continental. The company, a leading oil driller in North Dakota, was dragged into the case but has said it did not affect business.
In an appeal document, Sue Ann Arnall contended a trial judge wrongly allowed Harold Hamm to keep more than 90% of the wealth the couple accrued during their marriage.
Although Harold Hamm owned Continental before the marriage in 1988, the value of his shares surged 400-fold during the union. Sue Ann Arnall has been seeking a multi-billion dollar portion of those gains.
To limit what he would owe, Harold Hamm’s defense sought to show that his company’s growth during the marriage resulted mostly from “passive” factors beyond his control, such as rising oil prices. Under Oklahoma law, only the growth in wealth stemming from the active efforts and skills of either spouse during the marriage is split in a divorce.
Sue Ann Arnall contended that Harold Hamm’s deft management of the firm led to its growth.
Harold Hamm has already paid Arnall more than $20 million during the case, and the parties have spent millions in legal fees.
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The ex-wife of Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm, Sue Ann 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.
Feeling shortchanged by a ruling that allows Harold Hamm to keep around 94% of the estimated $18 billion rise in his Continental shares during a 26-year marriage, Sue Ann Hamm will appeal within a few weeks, one of her lawyers, Ron Barber, told Reuters on November 13.
Sue Ann Hamm believes the decision was “not equitable”, Ron Barber said.
On November 10, Oklahoma County Court Judge Howard Haralson ordered Harold Hamm, who is believed to own more oil than any other American, to pay his ex-wife $995 million. The ruling allows Sue Ann Hamm 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 Sue Ann Hamm’s award is a small fraction of the wealth Judge Howard Haralson allowed Harold Hamm to keep.
Harold Hamm holds more than 68%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.
Judge Howard 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 Hamm. The rest was awarded to Harold Hamm as “separate property”.
A lawyer and economist, Sue Ann Hamm worked at Continental during stretches of the couple’s marriage, which began in 1988. At one point, the ruling says, she was an executive in charge of Continental’s crude marketing division. She left the company in 2008. At other times she worked in the home, helping to raise the couple’s two children.
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 Judge Howard Haralson’s judgment, or modify the award. It could also send the case back to Judge Howard Haralson to be re-tried.
Family law experts say the process could take anywhere from 18 months to several years. Sue Ann Hamm has 30 days from when the ruling was filed, on November 10, to appeal it.
As part of the ruling, Judge Howard Haralson ordered Harold Hamm to pay his ex-wife more than $322 million by December 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, Judge Howard Haralson placed a lien on 20 million shares of the CEO’s Continental stock. Whether an appeal would alter the payment schedule remains unclear.
Harold Hamm’s attorney, Craig Box, said the CEO considers Judge Howard Haralson’s ruling to be “fair and equitable.” Hamm declined to comment on the prospect on an appeal.
Following the news, shares of Continental extended earlier losses. They fell 3.1% on the day as US oil prices sank below $80 per barrel for the first time in four years.
The Hamms had no prenuptial agreement. During their marriage, Continental’s value soared by around 400-fold, and Harold Hamm, the 13th child of sharecroppers, became Oklahoma’s richest person.
Harold Hamm, now 68, founded Continental in 1967, more than two decades before he married Sue Ann. But Oklahoma law typically requires that the enhanced value of premarital property be split “equitably” in a divorce if it resulted from the efforts or skills of either spouse during marriage.
Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm has been ordered to pay $995.5 million to his ex-wife Sue Ann Hamm in one of the largest-ever US divorce judgments, according to a court filing on November 10.
In an 80-page ruling following a more than 9-week divorce trial that ended last month, Oklahoma Special Judge Howard Haralson ruled that oil magnate Harold Hamm should pay his ex-wife a total of $995.5 million.
Although the award could make Sue Ann Hamm, 58, one of the 100 wealthiest women in the United States, according to Forbes‘ rankings, it is far smaller than the amount her lawyers sought and does not require Harold Hamm to sell shares of Continental.
Harold and Sue Ann Hamm wed in 1988 and had no prenuptial agreement
Harold Hamm, 68, holds 68% of Continental, a stake worth nearly $14 billion.
The ruling is subject to appeal, but if accepted by both parties it would allow Continental’s CEO to put a contentious and time-consuming divorce behind him, without eroding his control of one of America’s most successful oil companies.
Following news of the judgment, Continental shares fell 1.6% to $54.22 per share. The shares have lost around 30% since July 1, in step with tumbling world oil prices.
Oklahoma-based Continental is a leading driller in the key Bakken Shale play of North Dakota and Montana, the largest US oil discovery in decades. Through his stake in Continental, Harold Hamm is believed to own more oil underground than any other American.
Harold and Sue Ann Hamm wed in 1988 and had no prenuptial agreement. For years, Sue Ann Hamm was also an executive at Continental.