Connecticut residents may be interested in the most recent development in the ongoing divorce of Continental Resources founder Harold Hamm. In an order dated Feb. 13, the judge presiding over the divorce ruled that Hamm's 122 million shares of Continental were premarital property and would thus not be subject to any divorce settlement.
The issue had been a point of concern for Continental shareholders. Hamm founded the company and owns nearly 70 percent of all shares. Had those shares been split in the high asset divorce, it could have put his estranged wife in control of the company. After the decision, Hamm said he was confident that the shares would be ruled as premarital property.
Hamm and his wife have been estranged for more than half a decade. During that time, they have filed for divorce on three separate occasions. Forbes estimates that Hamm is worth more than $14 billion, which makes him the 68th wealthiest man in the world. Outside of the Continental shares, there are certainly a significant amount of other assets that will have to be divided. Thus far, Hamm has made few comments about the divorce, and many of the court documents have been sealed.
Generally, property that is owned by one person before marriage is off-limits during a divorce. However, business ownership can be tricky. If a court finds that both spouses contributed to the growth of the business, the court could decide to split the ownership. However, split ownership between ex-spouses can lead to numerous other issues for the business, so it's generally preferred to reach a settlement that leaves the business in the hands of one spouse and adequately compensates the other.
Source: Forbes, "Judge: Billionaire Hamm To Retain Control Of Continental Resources In Divorce Settlement", March 04, 2014