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Divorce trial begins for billionaire founder of oil company

Colorado couples who are considering divorce may be interested to learn that an Oklahoma billionaire began his divorce trial on Aug. 4, and that it may result in the largest divorce judgement in history. At stake in this particular case is $19 billion and shares of Continental Resources, a large oil driller in the Bakken Shale formation in Oklahoma.

The man, who founded the company and is the current CEO, was married to his wife for 26 years. During the trial, which was scheduled to run nine weeks, the judge has to determine how much the founder's work was worth as much of his wealth was earned during the marriage. If his attorneys can show that much of the man's wealth came from economic factors outside of his control, he may be awarded a larger percentage of his wealth than his ex-wife. If his ex-wife can argue that it was his work that resulted in his substantial wealth, she may be awarded a larger amount.

Since the judge has already stated that the company's shares belong to the founder, since he started the company 21 years before marrying his ex-wife, the issues regarding the division of assets arise from the lack of a prenuptial agreement. The ex-wife's attorneys have reportedly deposed more than 70 witnesses and have amasses more than 1 million pages of evidence.

Attorneys for individuals who are going through a high-asset divorce may be able to help determine which assets are considered to be marital assets and how much those assets are actually worth. In addition, they may also be able to help with the investigation of any assets that the ex-spouse may be attempting to hide and negotiate a settlement for their client that makes sense based on the assets at stake.

Source: Reuters, "Billion-dollar debate in Oklahoma divorce: Was oilman just lucky?", Joshua Schneyer, August 03, 2014

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