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Divorces can be drawn out when financial stakes are high

High-asset divorces can sometimes be problematic. In many cases, there are several details to establish and there can be several parties involved, from business valuation professionals to financial planners. Add to all that the legal and emotional complications of the divorce itself and there may be no avoiding some of the difficulties that can arise.

One specific obstacle that often comes up in a complex divorce is delay. Not only can it take significant time to identify, categorize, and divide property, but there can be delays when it comes to actually accepting and/or finalizing a divorce settlement. A party's challenge to a divorce settlement, or proposed settlement, can be frustrating for those who just want to be done with a divorce; however, it can be necessary if the proposed settlement seems to be unfair.

Consider, for example, the divorce between oil tycoon Harold Hamm and his ex-wife Sue Ann Arnall. The couple recently divorced and faced a number of complications when dividing their marital assets. At stake was about $18 billion that Hamm made during the couple's marriage.

Initially, a settlement was approved that gave $1 billion to Arnall. However, Arnall argues that amount is only a fraction of what she deserves. She filed an appeal claiming that dozens of errors were made in calculating the settlement.

Arnall states that her ex-husband inaccurately represented his stake in his companies, as well as his contributions to the rise in assets. It is also argued that an inappropriate share of Hamm's assets were categorized as separate property, and therefore not eligible for distribution.

It will be interesting to see how this case plays out and how long it may be until a final settlement is reached. In the meantime, this case can serve as a reminder of how complicated and lengthy divorces between wealthy or high-profile spouses can prove to be.

While it may not always be feasible to secure a quick divorce when there are large sums of money involved, there are ways to avoid certain complications and to challenge inappropriate settlements to ensure that a settlement is fair, even though the process often takes time. Seeking legal representation can be a good way for spouses to understand what steps need to be taken to protect themselves, their assets, and their future.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Oil Magnate Harold Hamm's Ex-Wife Appeals $1 Billion Divorce Ruling," Joshua Schneyer, Dec. 5, 2014

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