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High-asset divorce can create complexities in division

In a 79-page ruling, an Oklahoma County court recently ordered a corporate CEO to pay to his soon-to-be ex-wife nearly $1 billion in property division alimony. After a divorce trial that lasted for over two months, the judge ordered the 68-year-old man to pay his 58-year-old ex-wife more than $300 million by the end of the year, with the remaining balance to be paid in monthly installments of no less $7 million beginning in January.

Although support alimony was also sought, the court declined to award it, citing the substantial amount of the settlement and the lack of a showing of need for such support. The couple's home in Oklahoma and a $17.5 million ranch in Carmel Valley, California, were also awarded to the ex-wife in the marital property distribution. The man told Forbes magazine in a written statement that he believed the outcome was fair.

Alaska is an equitable distribution state. In an equitable distribution settlement, a spouse is considered the owner of property if his or her name appears on the asset. However, a person's spouse may legally claim a fair and equitable portion of those assets. Contrary to a community property division, this may or may not result in an even division of assets, as the goal of equitable distribution is a fair division. In such a proceeding, the court may consider a variety of factors in determining an equitable division of assets.

An attorney knowledgeable in family law may be able to assist a person in navigating the complex issues related to equitable distribution of property, especially in a high-asset divorce. Seeking the advice of such an attorney may make the process and the settlement of an already difficult situation less stressful for both spouses.

Source: USA Today, "Ex-wife gets nearly $1B in divorce ruling", Kevin McCoy, November 11, 2014

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