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$1 billion divorce settlement deemed a disappointment

Nevada residents may have heard about the divorce of a 58-year-old woman from her oil tycoon husband. She is planning to appeal an Oklahoma divorce settlement ruling that awarded her almost $1 billion. The couple was married for 25 years, had two children together and had no prenuptial agreement. Experts in high asset divorces expected that the judge would have given the woman as much as $8 billion, which would have made it the most expensive divorce ever.

Lawyers for the woman claimed that the majority of her husband's worth was due to his skill and that she allowed him to succeed from his hard work. However, attorneys for the man claimed that the rise in his net worth was due to the rise of oil prices and other factors outside of his control. Therefore, his wife was not entitled to a larger share of his estimated $20 billion net worth.

At certain points, the woman held executive positions within Continental Resources, which was the company that her husband founded. As part of the settlement ruling, the man would pay his former wife one-third of the $995.5 million settlement by the end of 2014. Additionally, he would make payments of $7 million per month until the rest of the $650 million is paid off if the settlement is upheld.

While Nevada is a community property state, Oklahoma and the majority of other states follow the principles of equitable distribution when making property division determinations in a divorce. However, equitable does not mean that property is split equally. Instead, it means that property is divided in a way that compensates each party for their role in the marriage in addition to other factors. Anyone who is going through a divorce may wish to consult with a family law attorney who can help ensure that all eligible property is properly divided by the court if the parties are unable to agree on their own.

Source: CNN, "$1 billion divorce settlement 'disappointing'", Steve Hargreaves, November 14, 2014

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