Posted by Attorney Bruce Watson –
While this New York Times article casts an amusing look at a very expensive divorce, one of the clear lessons has to do with the absence of a pre-nuptial agreement. This Oklahoma oil man married his 2nd wife, Sue Ann Hamm, after his first marriage ended amid allegations of infidelity. Despite marrying a company employee about 10 years his junior, the oil man did not bother with a prenuptial agreement and was recently ordered to pay her $1 billion to resolve the divorce.
Of course, Oklahoma law governed this divorce and the unique provisions of that state’s divorce law allowed the spouse to obtain a portion of the income earned through skill but does not allow the spouse to obtain any increase in income attributable to changing economic conditions or circumstances beyond the party’s control. In contrast, Massachusetts law does not distinguish between these 2 sets of reasons for economic success. In Massachusetts all of the higher earning spouse’s income and assets created by such income can be used to calculate a fair division of marital property and alimony payments. It is important for anyone facing such a divorce to obtain competent legal representation as such calculations must be done properly to obtain a fair outcome.
Here’s the entire article An Oklahoma Oilman’s Billion Dollar Divorce as published in the New York Times.