Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
Local 413-315-5518
Toll Free 877-622-6089

Family Law Attorney

I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

View our practice areas

Manner of asset enhancement fueling billionaire's alimony payment

Massachusetts residents may be aware of the many financial issues surrounding a divorce. Stakes are even higher in high-asset divorce cases. Many Massachusetts residents surely have read or heard about the on-going tussle between billionaire Harold Hamm and his former spouse. Billions of dollars are at stake in this prominent divorce case. Readers may be aware that Hamm has already paid $1 billion in alimony to his former wife. However, now both spouses have made appeals for revision of the alimony order.

Hamm's former wife, Sue, contends she contributed substantially to the growth of Hamm's oil company while they were married. Hamm states that the net worth used to award the billion-dollar alimony payment has declined appreciably due to the crash in crude oil prices, so the award should decline. An important point used for this case's net worth calculation is active versus passive appreciation. Active appreciation is the growth of a company due to management's direct efforts. Active appreciation means a company's prosperity and growth can be attributed in fair measure to a spouse's business acumen.

Passive appreciation, on the other hand, is an increase in a company's value due to inflation and other market forces. For instance, a person owns a parcel of land for 20 years and makes no effort to improve it, but its value increases anyway due to real estate development of the land surrounding it. Identification of the cause of marital financial gain and worth is important when considering division of assets for a divorce. Hamm's standpoint is that the tremendous growth of his company was luck and not his ability, so it's not a marital asset.

The truth regarding the asset accumulation for this divorce case is probably somewhere in the middle. To say that the oil company's growth had nothing to do with Hamm's abilities would probably be stretching the truth. But, it would also probably be wrong to say that oil market forces played no role in the accumulation of the company's worth and Hamm's wealth.

Source:, "Active And Passive Appreciation In The Continuing Story Of Hamm v. Hamm," Jeff Landers, Jan. 22, 2015

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us For A Response


Contact Us! This Firm Accepts Credit Cards

Office Location

Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
1380 Main Street, Suite 302
Springfield, MA 01103

Toll Free: 877-622-6089
Phone: 413-315-5518
Springfield Law Office Map

Contact our firm

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy