Sue Ann Hamm: Does Appeal of $1 Billion Divorce Make Her a Gold Digger?

Mike TuttleLife

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Sue Ann Hamm is being called a “gold digger” on social media. What most people are hearing is that she just got a $1 billion divorce settlement, but says that it isn’t enough.

Sue Ann Hamm was married to Harold Hamm, who currently ranks 37th on Forbes' 400 Richest People in America list. Hamm’s fortune came from oil. Mitt Romney named Hamm his Energy Advisor during his 2012 campaign.

A judge awarded Sue Ann Hamm $995.5 million in her divorce from Harold. Harold is ordered to pay $322 million to her by the end of the year, then minimum payments of $7 million each month starting in January. She also gets their $4.6 million home in Nichols Hills, Oklahoma; an $800,000 home in Enid, Oklahoma; and a $17.4 million home in Carmel Valley, California.

But Sue Ann plans to appeal. Does that make her a gold digger?

There are a few relevant facts to consider.

Harold Hamm began drilling for oil in 1971, went into natural gas in the 80’s. He was married before, which ended in 1987. He and Sue Ann were married in 1988. But Hamm’s business had its ups and downs until 1995, when Hamm struck big with horizontal oil wells in North Dakota. Still the compnay lost money when oil prices went down in 1998. But slowly rising process brought him back from the brink in the early 2000s. His company did not go public until 2007.

Sue Ann Hamm was an executive at Continental Resources, Harold Hamm’s company. According to Reuters, she "held key posts at Continental. She has led oil-industry trade groups in Oklahoma, testified to Congress on behalf of Continental and created Continental’s oil and gas marketing units."

The amount Sue Ann Hamm has been awarded is less than six percent of the wealth that she and Harold had together. The “marital assets” alone awarded to Harold Hamm in the divorce — homes, cabins, acreage, etc. — total more than $2 billion.

A judge determined that the value of Hamm’s company was due more to market appreciation than work by Sue Ann. The New York Times observed that a major factor in how much Sue Ann would be rewarded would have to do with how Harold Hamm’s company got its money.

"The money a spouse earns while married can be part of a divorce settlement if it is made through skill. If, on the other hand, the increase is attributable to ‘changing economic conditions, or circumstances beyond the parties’ control,' as the state’s Supreme Court put it in a 1995 case, then that money is off the table.”

While Sue Ann Hamm may have a tough case to argue for getting more money from her ex-husband, the facts do show that she was no gold digger.

Mike Tuttle
Writer. Google+ Writer for WebProNews.