Oil magnate's ex-wife slams $1 billion divorce ruling in appeal

Fri Dec 5, 2014 5:17pm EST
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By Joshua Schneyer

(Reuters) - The ex-wife of Oklahoma oil magnate Harold Hamm has appealed a November divorce ruling that awarded her $1 billion, citing 78 alleged errors and missteps that caused a judge to grossly undervalue her stake in one of America's greatest oil fortunes.

Sue Ann Arnall's appeal assails as "inappropriate" Judge Howard Haralson's decision to allow lawyers for both her ex-husband and his oil company, Continental Resources, to "double team" her during an epic divorce trial.

It also disputes the court's acceptance of a revised version of Continental's corporate history that falsely dates hugely profitable moves as occurring before the couple's 26-year marriage began.

The Nov. 10 ruling being appealed ordered Hamm to pay Arnall around $1 billion, including cash and assets, over a period of years. The divorce judgment ranks as one of the largest in U.S. history, but allowed Harold Hamm to retain most of the wealth stemming from his 68 percent Continental stake as "separate property."

During trial, Arnall’s lawyers had valued the marital estate at around $18 billion.

Arnall’s lawyers contend that Haralson miscalculated what was due to her by attributing only a small portion of a $14 billion rise in the value of his Continental shares during the marriage to the efforts and skills of either spouse.

Harold Hamm's attorney, Craig Box, earlier called the ruling fair. He didn’t return a request for comment on Friday.

During a 10-week trial that ended in October, the CEO argued that Continental’s growth stemmed mostly from passive factors, including rising oil prices. Under Oklahoma law, only the “active” portion of wealth accrued during marriage in previously acquired assets is subject to division.   Continued...

Sue Ann Hamm stands in the courthouse hall before divorce proceedings with Harold Hamm, founder and CEO of Continental Resources, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma September 22, 2014. Picture taken September 22, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Sisney