Billion Dollar Divorce for Oklahoma Oil Man

"Stack Of Cash",Licensed Creative Commons, Klickr User kenteegardin,  2011

Money

Harold Hamm, named by Forbes as the 24th richest man in the world, is set to pay one of the biggest divorce settlements in history to former wife Sue Hamm. Mr. Hamm owns the largest piece of the nations most oil-rich land in North Dakota. “Mr. Hamm, who has described himself as “more hardheaded than other people,” did not have a particular document that is all but standard now whenever tycoons wed: a prenuptial agreement”. After the 9-week trial, Sue Hamm will now be amongst the richest women in the country. Mr. Hamm is required to pay his ex-wife one-third of the total settlement ($320 million) by the end of this year. Read More

New Jersey Court Ruling: Adult Children With Power of Attorney Not Welcome in Elderly Parent’s Divorce

With life expectancies among today’s senior citizens longer than ever, more and more adult children are finding themselves sharing the responsibility of caring for their aging and elderly parents, including taking part in their parents’ legal and financial affairs as an appointed Power of Attorney. Holding Power of Attorney can be helpful when it comes to making decisions concerning medical billing or nursing home payments. But what happens if an elderly parent decides to divorce?

A recently published opinion from New Jersey’s Ocean County Superior Court examined the novel question of whether or not a litigant in divorce proceedings could appear and testify through an attorney-in-fact designated by Power of Attorney (POA). The court declined to allow this, for multiple reasons, and presented some clear guidelines for parties and attorneys to follow if presented with similar situations in the future. The case, Marsico v. Marsico, involved an adult daughter holding POA for her elderly father who had been sued for divorce by his second wife. Read more

Melissa Etheridge Gives Up Half Her Royalties in Divorce Settlement

Turns out gay divorce is pretty much just as acrimonious as straight divorce.  In 2010, Melissa Etheridge, a singer/songwriter, split from her longtime actress wife Tammy Lynn Michaels.  The two married in 2003, though not explicitly legally.  It was a “commitment ceremony”, which is really more like a party and doesn’t set any legal claim to marriage.  The two registered themselves in a domestic partnership with the state of California, which carries a different set of rights and obligations than marriage.  Michaels gave birth to a set of twins in 2006, further cementing their bond.  They unfortunately missed the deadline to get married legally in the short period of time when California permitted gay marriage in 2008, which would have made this much less business-like.  However, since their breakup in 2010, the two have been in a contentious divorce-like fight about the dissolution of their partnership, which was finally resolved yesterday.  And if you thought business partnerships were rough, just imagine it when children and spite are involved.

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Divorce Is Final, Says Court

Gavel and scales, by Flickr user "s_falkow", licensed via Creative CommonsThe New York Court of Appeals ruled today that a Bernie Madoff victim can’t redefine the terms of his divorce on account of his losses to Madoff’s fraud.  Steven Simkin and Laura Blank, when married, invested $5.4 million in Madoff’s business together.  The terms of their 2006 divorce settlement totalling $13.5 million split all assets evenly.  However, while Mr. Simkin elected to retain his stake in Madoff’s business in the divorce, Blank took her half in cash.  Madoff turned himself in to police for perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history just two years later.  Meaning that Simkin lost his millions, while Blank was none the worse.

Simkin sued Blank to essentially redo the divorce settlement, which eventually reached New York’s highest court.  His argument was that, since Madoff’s investment was fraudulent, he and Blank should split the losses evenly.  Today, the court decided against it, citing the finality of divorce and warning that allowing the resettlement would set a dangerous precedent for divorce settlements and other contracts.  While Simkin tried to argue that the Madoff account didn’t exist and so he shouldn’t be held accountable for his investment in it, the Court disagreed, saying that the account did exist, it was just illegal, and that Simkin could have taken out his money at any time, like his ex-wife did.  In other words, they called him a sore loser.