Will Oil Tycoon's Divorce Settlement Be Most Expensive Ever?

Michael Hamm founded a company that pioneered oil fracking. His $20 billion fortune is now at the center of a pricey divorce settlement.
Posted at 2:17 PM, Aug 29, 2014

Harold Hamm, who built an empire in the oil industry, is one of the richest men in the world. But now some of those billions could be at stake as he and his wife undergo talks for what will likely be an extremely pricey divorce.

Hamm and his wife, Sue Ann, have been separated since 2005 due to her claims of his infidelity. With a hefty $20 billion fortune on the table, the couple's divorce trial has made headlines claiming it could be the most expensive divorce ever. 

Hamm founded Continental Resources in the 1960s and was a pioneer in oil fracking. According to Forbes, Hamm is currently the 34th richest person in the world.

The company's success is now at the center of a heated debate within the trial as the two sides argue whether it was due to luck or skill, as CNBC explains:

"Couples have two kinds of assets: There's active and there's passive. Active assets are those that come from work and those are the ones that can be divided. Passive assets, well, they're from luck or passive investing."

Although this asset division is not unique to the couple's home state of Oklahoma, most divorce settlements haven't had this much at stake.

So much that even some of the proceedings, such as the opening arguments, were kept behind closed doors in order to protect confidential information and company shareholders.

Some outlets are predicting this to be the most expensive divorce settlement in history, beating a $4.5 billion settlement in May against a Russian businessman.

NBC has dubbed this "the King Kong of divorce cases" in which Sue Ann Hamm would only need less than a quarter of her ex-husband's net worth to match the record settlement.

In the U.S., some prominent divorce settlements have topped a few hundred million — Mel Gibson's was $425 million, Michael Jordan's was $168 million and Tiger Woods' was $110 million. (Video via NBC)

​According to the Daily Mail, some experts are now wondering what such a large settlement would mean for the company, as Hamm owns a 68 percent stake in Continental Resources, which produces nearly 10 percent of America's oil.

Neither party's lawyer has commented on the case. A settlement is expected by the end of October.

This video includes images from Getty Images.