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Oil tycoon could lose billions in divorce

High-profile divorces involving the rich and famous might not seem like they have a lot to teach normal Texas husbands and wives about divorce. However, many of the issues that crop up in these highly-publicized splits can show up in traditional divorces, albeit, on a smaller scale.

One such divorce involves Harold Ham, who is the chief executive of Continental Resources, a fast-growing oil company here in America. The man was married to his second wife, who filed for divorce in the spring of last year. The man stands to lose a lot, especially considering the fact that he was named one of the 50 richest Americans by Forbes magazine. He is worth an estimated $11.3 billion.

As we know from more common divorces around Texas, unless a prenuptial agreement is in place, assets are in danger of being split up among divorcing spouses. Legal analysts said they were unsure whether a prenuptial agreement was in place. If it was not, the divorce could see the largest ever financial payout in a divorce. It could trump the $1.7 billion that Rupert Murdoch paid during his 1999 divorce.

The man was previously divorced in 1987 and remarried in 1988. The couple has two children, who are now both of adult age.

Ham's soon-to-be ex-wife claimed that she filed for divorce because she discovered that he was having an affair in 2010. The divorce is, however, shaping up to be a complicated one, especially with all that is at stake.

Both sides had filed for divorce in the past. Ham filed for divorce in 1998 and asked that his wife undergo a psychological exam. The case file was destroyed this year, and it is unclear as to why. Ham's wife previously filed for divorce in 2005, but dropped the petition.

Normal citizens of Texas might not have billions of dollars, but it is smart to protect the assets they do have when heading into marriage.

Source: Reuters, "Exclusive: Looming divorce could threaten oil baron's empire," Brian Grow, Joshua Schneyer, March 21, 2013

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Austin, TX 78759

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