A Ruling Is Expected In The $US18 Billion Divorce Of A Shale Fracking Magnate Within Days

Harold HammAP Photo/Evan AgostiniHarold and Sue Ann Hamm at the 2012 TIME 100 gala.

The final pronunciation on what could be the richest divorce in history is expected in days.

Harold and Sue Ann Hamm first filed for divorce in March 2013.

After nine weeks of hearings, Oklahoma County judge Harold Haralson is expected to file his final ruling by Oct. 23, News Oklahoma reported.

Mr Hamm is Oklahoma’s richest man and, with current assets of around $US14 billion, he is the 29th richest American. Most of his wealth depends on his 68% stake in Continental Resources, the oil company he founded in 1967. The company made a fortune in the shale fracking boom in North Dakota and Montana.

Mr Hamm also met his wife at Continental, where she has been working as an attorney and held executive roles. She also testified in Congress on behalf of Continental, Reuters reported. The couple married in 1988 without a pre-nuptial agreement.

In filing for divorce, Mrs Hamm demanded half the money his husband acquired during the 26 years of their marriage, what in legal terms is called “marital property,” and currently calculated at $US17.6 billion.

The massive figure at stake make it potentially the richest divorce in history: the closest precedent is the divorce between Rupert and Ann Murdoch, in which Murdoch’s wife was awarded $US1.7 billion.

If the judge agrees with the wife, Mr Hamm could have to sell his company to pay for the ruling. In September, Reuters broke the story that Continental was revising its corporate history to diminish Hamm’s role in the company success, a strategy to minimize the losses in the divorce. Under Oklahoma law, if Hamm can show that its success was due to market conditions, rather than to Continental’s own management, he would not be forced to share half of the profits with his wife.

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