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Hamm divorce: Cashed check doesn't mean the fight is over

We try to make it a point to not focus too much of our blog attention on the divorces of the rich and famous. They don't tend to reflect the kind of divorce situations that most Minnesota couples are facing. But there are times when aspects of high-profile divorces provide valuable insights into the issues that can arise.

The divorce of Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm and Sue Ann Arnall after more than 20 years of marriage is one that stands out from most others. Readers will recall that we have written about this particular case several times in the past year

In one post, we used the emerging details to explain the importance of understanding equitable division -- the model of property division followed in Minnesota. In another, we discussed the possible implications of the divorce on Hamm's majority shareholder position in the company he created, Continental Resources. And in one other, we looked at how the lack of a prenuptial agreement could result in a process that is more costly and of greater duration than either party might prefer.

The latest developments reported in this case seem to bear that final point out well. A judge's decision in November led to Hamm cutting a settlement check to Arnall for nearly $1 billion. The judge said that was equitable. Arnall's position is that it isn't -- that it represents less than 6 percent of the wealth the couple accumulated during their time together.

She appealed the ruling. But when Arnall cashed that check recently, Hamm's attorneys thought that meant the appeal would be dropped. That is not the case.

Arnall has since made it clear that the appeal is going forward and that cashing the check only reflects her desire to secure control over those funds and her personal independence pending the outcome of her petition. She says that's something that could take yet several more years.

Ending any marriage is not simply a matter of signing papers to that effect. Dissolutions involving complex assets only become more challenging. If you have concerns about how your case might best be handled, the right move is to consult with an experienced attorney. 

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