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Dividing Marital Assets in High Asset Divorce

     Special Methods For Dealing With High Asset Value Divorce

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. Often times when clients believe that they have resolved issues relating to the divorce itself, there will be a multitude of other disagreements that must be addressed before the case can be closed. 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 tells you that the question of dividing marital treasure will not be decided by the rules of equity, but more with the goal of fairness. In the event that the divorcing couple fails to reach an agreement outside of divorce court the family law judge will decide based on equity. The process begins with sort out what are debts and assets of the marriage. Assets that were acquired as a result of marital industry during the marriage are considered marital property. 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. Perhaps, the family court determines that the assets are a combination of both, but its not easy to decide what proportion is assigned to what.

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. Occasionally one of the partners attempts to secret away assets; these must be highlighted.

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. .

Article Source:

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.

Posted on 2014-10-21, By: *

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Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author.

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