The recent divorce of Continental Resources Inc. CEO Harold Hamm has drawn vast amounts of media attention for a number of reasons.
Last week, Cordell & Cordell Principal Partner Joe Cordell appeared on Phoenix’s “Business for Breakfast,” broadcast by Money Radio 1510, to discuss the ramifications of the case and why it has drawn so much interest.
In the interview, Mr. Cordell noted that the case has sparked an interesting conversation regarding whether assets should be considered marital or separate.
Hamm, whose assets were worth around $18 billion, acquired Continental Resources prior to his marriage with Sue Ann Hamm, who was recently awarded nearly $1 billion in a divorce settlement but is now asking for more.
In Oklahoma, as well as many other states, if an asset is purchased prior to the marriage and it simply appreciates in value, it remains a separate asset. The argument against Harold Hamm is that, as CEO, he had a direct influence in the company’s gain in value, which occurred during his marriage to Sue Ann Hamm.
“Many would say, ‘Gee, he’s like John D. Rockefeller,'” Mr. Cordell said. “‘He took this company and made it worth much more.’ So he’s in the ironic position of arguing that, ‘Gee, it was just dumb luck and I own this asset and I turned around one day and it was worth $17 billion.'”
Mr. Cordell also discussed how the case has drawn attention to the value of prenuptial agreements in negating some of the risk associated with marriage.
“Prenuptials are increasing common and courts now are prepared to enforce them,” Mr. Cordell said. “At one time, they were very questionable, so clients felt that they would rather go bare, so to speak. I think now, for the most part, people realize marriage has a lot of risk associated with it.”
Listen to the full audio of Mr. Cordell’s interview below: