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Oil tycoon may owe wife $8 billion in divorce case

Maryland residents may be interested to know that a 68-year-old oil tycoon worth an estimated $20 billion and his 58-year-old wife of 26 years are taking their divorce battle to an Oklahoma City Court. The founder of Continental Resources may be required to pay his wife as much as $8 billion in the final settlement. That would top the $4.5 billion award given to the former wife of a Russian billionaire.

Not much is known about the specifics of the case as the judge overseeing the case has ordered most records to be sealed. They were sealed to protect potentially sensitive information regarding Continental, which is one of the biggest companies in North Dakota. Experts say that there are two questions that will need to be answered to determine how assets are split in the case.

The first question is when the couple split while the second question is how much the wife contributed to the growth of the company both as a former executive and as a partner in the business. As the company has grown in recent years, the timing of the split could determine how it is valued for asset division purposes. Another issue is the lack of a prenuptial agreement, which is making a settlement in the case complicated.

In a high-asset divorce, the two parties to the divorce may settle out of court or have a prenuptial agreement. However, if the two parties cannot settle or don't have a premarital agreement, it may be up to a judge to determine how to split the assets between the two. A family law attorney may be able to help an individual come to a settlement with the other party that may be more beneficial to both parties compared to a judge's ruling.

Source: CNN Money, "Oil tycoon could face record divorce judgment", Steve Hargreaves, August 12, 2014

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