Divorce is an increasingly common part of American life, with an estimated 46,523 divorces filed every week around the country and no signs of the trend slowing. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that as many as 50% of marriages entered into today will end in separation. Despite how common this occurrence is, however, many people undergoing this process still have a number of fears about how this event might affect their lives: everything from child custody to alimony and the division of property could set their lives in a million different directions. And while a divorce settlement can be carefully negotiated to ensure the both parties emerge in healthy situations, a number of heavily-publicized cases have made many people doubt that this is possible.
Take the case of Harold Hamm, for example: the oil tycoon, who serves as the CEO of Continental Resources, was recently ordered to pay one of the largest ever divorce settlements in U.S. history. After a trial that lasted more than nine weeks, an Oklahoma judge ruled that Hamm must pay $1 billion to his ex-wife, Sue Ann. The case drew national attention not only due to the size of the settlement being debated, but because Hamm’s divorce attorneys attempted to argue that his fortune was accumulated simply due to luck rather than competence. This would have drastically reduced the amount of money Sue Ann would have received, as Oklahoma law considers funds gained through effort, investment, and skill subject to “equitable distribution.” However, the court found that Hamm had made skilled business decisions, resulting in his company’s success, and awarded a significant portion of the former couple’s wealth to Sue Ann, although a smaller amount than her divorce lawyers had originally requested.
Cases like the Hamm divorce often terrify people undergoing their own separation, causing fears about losing their children and property or having to make excessive payments run rampant. This is especially common in parents: studies show that 82% of women seeking a divorce in the U.S. want to be the custodial parent, but parents of both genders often worry that they will wind up with an unfair custody agreement or having to pay an unsustainable amount in child support. However, as long as divorcees work with family law attorneys from a divorce law firm, the chances of the situation working out in an agreeable fashion are overwhelming. Even Harold Hamm benefited from working with his divorce attorneys: he is currently allowed to appeal the decision to award his ex-wife $1 billion, but will likely settle, as the ruling allows him to maintain a controlling interest in his oil company and ends an already-lengthy divorce process.
Divorce is a frightening, emotionally-difficult process. But despite popular concerns that the proceedings will ruin a person financially and otherwise, as long as a person has legal counsel they are capable of negotiating a fair settlement. For this reason, if you are in the process of divorce, contact a divorce attorney in your area to help you with your case.
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