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Oil tycoon's divorce highlights issues with property division

High-asset divorces are rarely easy affairs. For many of our Texas readers, it's easy to see why. Hundreds of thousands of dollars could be at stake. And if the state where the divorce is occurring does not have community property laws, one spouse could see an unequal outcome in the end.

Such may be the case for oil tycoon Harold Hamm. His divorce from his wife of 25 years has grabbed national attention because of the couple's assets that could be worth billions. But because the case has been sealed, the public can only speculate as to how it will be divided and whether each partner will receive what they believe to be their fair share.

Because the Hamms' divorce is happening Oklahoma and not here in Texas, it's worth noting for our readers that property division works a little differently there than it does here. Here in Texas, because we are a community property state, all income and property acquired during the marriage is considered community property and is subject to equitable distribution. Only in certain circumstances, and if the right reasons are argued to a judge, will the courts order an unequal result.

But this isn't the case in Oklahoma where the judge will take a number of factors into consideration before distributing what he or she deems as equitable. Much of it, legal experts speculate, will boil down to how much of the couple's fortunate Mr. Hamm actively acquired and how much of it was passive. This could swing much of the fortunate away from marital property into the realm of personal property.

The case is certainly a contentious one with potentially billions of dollars at stake. And even though it's happening just to our north in another state, it certainly highlights for our readers the issues property division can raise.

Source: CNBC, “Priciest Divorce Ever? How Oilman Harold Hamm Could Lose $17 Billion,” Tony Dokoupil, Aug. 24, 2014

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