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What can we learn from this oil tycoon's divorce?

There is always a learning curve when it comes to divorce and having one that has the media's attention is especially vulnerable to being analyzed. What are the teachable moments in Harold Hamm and his wife Sue Ann Hamm's divorce? Mr. Hamm is an oilman who has made billions of dollars from fracking.

He and his soon-to-be ex-wife are in court and even with the media restrictions, there are some questions that can be answered due to this divorce.

Being aware of Illinois's divorce law is important and having someone who knows those laws is an asset you may want to look into. One law in Illinois allows for equitable distribution, meaning the court decides how the split of property and debt will occur.

The first factor that is considered a lesson from the Hamm divorce is the difference between active and passive appreciation. In Illinois, passive appreciation happens when you took no part in causing your assets to increase in value and you get to keep those funds if you were the owner before the marriage. If you took a part in causing the company or assets to increase in value, your spouse will get a portion of that increase. Hamm and his ex-wife are at odds over this, as you can imagine.

Another question that arises from the Hamm divorce is when did the actual separation take place? Any assets that are earned after the separation are not included in the amount the spouse who is not the owner of the company or asset. Being sure of when that separation occurred is important and needs a professional who can help set that date. Is it the date you moved out or the date the divorce was officially filed?

If you are contemplating a divorce and feel that it will be difficult, you may want the advice of a legal professional who can assist you-- someone who knows the laws that govern divorce and property division in the state of Illinois.

Source: Forbes, "A multi-billion dollar divorce: what all divorcing women can learn rrom Sue Ann Hamm" Jeff Landers, Sep. 22, 2014

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