The billionaire owner with a controlling interest in Continental Resources Inc., an oil company, could find the appreciation of his stock classified as a marital asset in a case that family lawyers in British Columbia are watching with interest. Although the stock itself was obtained prior to his marriage and is not counted as a marital asset, an Oklahoma judge reported that he was waiting to make a decision on the increased value of 125 million stock shares.
The 69-year-old billionaire was relieved that the preliminary ruling gave him the right to keep the stocks in the divorce. However, they could require him to divide the earned income from the stocks, which could be billions of dollars. His lawyer did not comment on the case. Bloomberg listed the man in the top 50 of richest people in the world.
The couple were married for 26 years when they submitted divorce paperwork in 2012. They did not have a pre- or post-marital agreement. One lawyer commented on the stocks in the case and the court’s decision. He explained that Oklahoma law will look at if either party contributed to the growth of the asset instead of allowing market conditions to increase its value. He added that the involvement could mean the court decides that the stocks are a marital asset and need to be shared by both parties. The stocks were originally sold for $15 in 2007 but are now worth $120.46, which was an increase of more than $13 billion.
During a divorce, the division of assets can be challenging and stressful for both parties. A family lawyer might be able to help clients who are seeking a fair division of assets with an equitable divorce settlement.
Source: Bloomberg, “Continental Resources Founder’s Stake at Risk in Divorce“, Brendan Coffey, March 19, 2014
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