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Billionaire allowed to keep business assets in divorce settlement

Many Tennessee residents might expect property division during divorce to be especially complicated for owners of businesses. This is particularly true because assessing the value of business assets can become complicated. As a result, many separating spouses comingle personal and business assets to make the distinction between marital and nonmarital properties impossible to distinguish.

Recently, an Oklahoma district court ruled that the 122 million shares of Continental Resources owned by billionaire Harold Hamm, will not be considered marital property and therefore not subject to asset division. However, another 4 million shares are not protected by the judge's order and could be split with Hamm's wife.

The couple's divorce trial is set to begin in July. The couple has lived apart for most of the last decade; the latest divorce filing is the third made over the years. The amount that Hamm's wife could get in a settlement is unclear, but her attorneys have made several attempts to unearth the details of Hamm's assets.

Although few divorcing couples have the kind of monetary wealth that Hamm does, many divorcing couples have complex property division issues. In a complex asset division case where businesses and investments are at involved, identifying business and personal assets and deciding which are eligible for division is the key to making sensible decisions. Without help from certified public accountants, forensic accountants and business valuation professionals, the task could prove to be a nearly impossible challenge.

For this reason alone, it is wise to engage an experienced divorce lawyer to ensure that all assets are accounted for before divorce proceedings begin. With experience, knowledge of state divorce law and financial experts available to consult, a lawyer may be able to determine the actual value of all assets and ensure that a fair and equitable division takes place, thus protecting the rights and finances of a divorcing spouse.

Source: Forbes, "Judge: Billionaire Hamm To Retain Control Of Continental Resources In Divorce Settlement," Christopher Helman, Mar. 4, 2014

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