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Oil tycoon’s marriage may end in record judgment

Arizona residents may be interested in an Oklahoma family court case that may result in a multi-billion dollar judgment. A 68-year-old oil tycoon and his wife appeared in divorce court in the first week of August. Among the issues is the man’s fortune, estimated by a wealth research firm to be worth more than $20 billion.

The case could be the most expensive divorce in history if the woman receives a judgment of only 25 percent of her soon-to-be ex-husband’s net worth. Early estimates say that she could receive between $4 billion and $8 billion, potentially breaking the May 2014 record of $4.5 billion granted to the ex-wife of a Russian businessman in their divorce. The oilman earned most of his wealth in the 26 years he was married to her, and she may have contributed significantly to the company’s growth, having served as an executive in the company and as her husband’s partner. Further complicating the case is the fact that the couple had not signed a prenuptial agreement.

The judge presiding over the case set aside eight weeks for the proceedings and declared a closed trial, ordering most of the records to be sealed. Open proceedings could harm the oil company that the man founded by revealing sensitive information to the public. The chair of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s family law section said that an earlier separation of assets may enable the man to keep a greater share of his wealth.

Unlike Oklahoma, Arizona is a community property state, where marital property is divided as equally as possible. High-net-worth divorces often present complex issues to divorcing couples. Divorce attorneys who are experienced in dealing with high-net-worth cases may be able to help spouses protect their assets.

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