California residents might have heard that a major oil tycoon faces a potential divorce judgment that could end up the highest on record. Oklahoma resident Harold Hamm and his wife filed for divorce and, though most of the documents have been sealed from public view, a research firm has estimated that Hamm’s worth is more than $20 billion.

Two factors will come into play when the courts determine how much of the family wealth Hamm’s wife will receive. First, the court will determine the actual date of separation. Since Hamm’s fortune has grown significantly over recent years, he would benefit by an early separation date. The second factor involves the wife’s significance in the growth of the business assets; Hamm owned most of the business prior to their marriage, but his wife played a role in running the business in addition to contributing to Hamm’s home life.

The majority of Hamm’s wealth was built over the 26 years that the couple was married. The highest known divorce settlement until Hamm’s court case involved a Russian oligarch for $4.5 billion. If Hamm’s wife were awarded just one quarter of their assets, she would exceed that amount. According to sources, she could receive as much as $8 billion, making this divorce the most expensive to date.

For a couple that may be facing a high-asset divorce, there can be special challenges that go beyond what an ordinary divorce might entail. Complex asset division, such as that of business shares and property, may require a divorcing individual to receive additional help from an attorney who could provide adequate representation during mediation or litigation.

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