Tulsa Divorce Attorneys Assist Clients with High Net Worth Divorces
Oklahoma divorce laws apply equally to individuals who do not have a penny to their names, as well as to multi-millionaires. The difference with the latter group is one of complexity. The numerous types of assets held by wealthy individuals give rise to a variety of legal issues that cannot be sorted out without the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney.
Oil billionaire and Continental Resources chief executive Harold Hamm was recently in the news over his divorce from his wife of 26 years. Mr. Hamm has amassed a fortune the worth of which is estimated to be between $11.3 and $20 billion. At issue is the question of how the marital property is to be divided between Mr. Hamm and his wife.
Okla. Stat., tit. 43, Section 101 gives twelve distinct bases for divorce in Oklahoma, including the no-fault basis of incompatibility. Even in a situation where the parties have agreed to the divorce itself, there are many other issues that must be decided before the legal process is complete. In particular, the questions of property division, alimony, and child support all come into play and are more often the focal point of serious conflict in high net worth divorces. These types of divorces involve complex matters involving identification and valuation of property that do not come up as often with divorces involving fewer assets.
On the issue of property division, Oklahoma is an "equitable distribution" state. This means that the issue of the division of marital assets will be determined, not according to equality, but rather according to fairness. If the parties cannot reach a settlement on their own, the court will decide what is equitable. The first step is to identify marital assets and debts. Assets that result from the efforts of either spouse during the marriage are generally considered part of the marital estate. Assets and debts that were owned or incurred separately by the parties prior to the marriage are not marital property, unless those assets increased during the marriage as a result of the efforts of one of the parties. The next step is to assign value to the assets. Finally, the court will divide the assets and debts equitably between the parties.
At issue in the case of the Hamm divorce is whether Mr. Hamm acquired his oil fortune as a result of his own blood, sweat, and tears, or whether he was the passive beneficiary of the increase in the price of crude oil. If the fortune was the result of active work on the part of Mr. Hamm, then the court would consider it part of the marital estate. If merely the result of passive appreciation of assets he possessed before the marriage, then it would be separate. Possibly, the court will decide the fortune is a mixture of the two, but it is unclear what the proportionate amounts would be.
The Hamm divorce is one example of the type of legal conundrums that arise during a high-net-worth divorce. Such couples usually have many different types of assets that are not liquid and therefore require valuation. Often prenuptial agreements are involved and need to be assessed as to enforceability. Sometimes a spouse seeks to hide assets; these need to be brought to light.
A high-net-worth individual thinking about obtaining a divorce is best served by retaining competent Tulsa Divorce Attorneys early on. The discovery process can be long and complicated and usually involves the assistance of various types of professionals to identify and assign value to the marital assets. The sooner a seasoned divorce lawyer is involved, the more likely that your rights will be protected and the end result will be truly equitable. .
Phillip Sanger is a content writer for divorce and family law firms in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He writes about the process of divorce and the division of marital assets. His writings also deal with child custody and support. High asset divorces are often hotly contested. His writing provide insights to readers regarding the best way to approach the division of property. http://divorceattorneystulsa.net/