Determining Premarital Property Can Keep Divorce Less Messy


The divorce process anywhere in the United States, including Georgia, can proceed swiftly if no children are involved and if few properties and assets need to be divided. High-asset divorces, on the other hand, can be very complex due to the extent and size of properties and assets. This is the case of billionaire Harold Hamm and soon-to-be ex-wife Sue Ann Hamm.

Many oil-industry observers have wondered about the fate of Continental Resources, the oil company founded in the 1960s by Harold Hamm. His divorce from Sue Ann, initiated by her in May 2012, has put the couple's properties up for division. Recently, however, an Oklahoma District Court judge ruled that the 122 million shares of Continental owned by Hamm before his marriage will be considered premarital and thus not subject to property division.

Hamm says he was relieved with the ruling because Continental shareholders have been concerned by the possibility of a sudden change in the company's operating regime in the event the divorce were to split its founder's holdings.

The trial phase of the Hamm divorce will begin in July, and Hamm has expressed his hope that the case will be settled before the end of the year.

Both Oklahoma and Georgia are equitable distribution states, which means that property and assets are divided in a way that is presumed to be fair and just to both parties but that is not necessarily equal. Before property division proceeds, all properties and assets will be identified as marital or premarital. Only marital assets will be subject to division; premarital assets will be excluded from the process.

When faced with a high-asset divorce, spouses should consult with a family law attorney who can ensure that the potential client will obtain his or her fair share of the marriage's ultimate financial value.

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