Sixty-seven year old billionaire Harold Hamm has gone from being someone who has shied away from public attention to having the news of his impending divorce go viral on the internet. Sue Ann Hamm, his second wife, has alleged that Mr. Hamm had an extra-marital affair. Now he may be losing half of his oil company. The billion dollar question is whether there was a prenuptial agreement signed and if so, what it stated as its terms.
Mr. Hamm is known as one of the most influential businessmen in the United States. During the Mitt Romney campaign, he served as senior energy advisor. While he participated in the presidential campaign, Mr. Hamm stayed away from the public spotlight due to his vast wealth.
Continental Resources, an oil company built by the couple, could be severely impacted by the divorce. Mrs. Hamm could be entitled to half of Mr. Hamm's sixty-eight percent share in the company, should there prove to be no prenuptial agreement in place. In that case, Mr. Hamm would lose control over Continental Resources.
If the court decides to give Mrs. Hamm half of the oil company, the estimated value is over 5.3 billion. News of the couple's marital split has driven company shares down by three percent as of March 29, 2013. To date, this divorce has the potential to be the most costly divorce in U.S. history. Current estimates put Continental Resources' value of 11.2 billion.
The divorce proceedings are taking place in the state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state, just like Pennsylvania. This means that the judge will decide what constitutes a "fair" distribution of assets. Some of the factors the judge may decide to consider in this divorce include: Mrs. Hamm's previous executive role in the company, the fact that their children are adults (Jane and Hilary) and the length of the marriage, which is twenty-five years.
Since the marriage took place in 1988, speculation is that there is no prenuptial agreement in place. In addition, Mr. Hamm has stakes in several other companies which could increase the cost of this divorce. Mrs. Hamm has already had her lawyers inquire about documentation for the other companies in addition to Continental Resources.
Mr. Hamm is attempting to keep his divorce out of the public eye. He claims he wants to keep the matter private for his children and family. A confidentiality court order has been issued with regard to the divorce.