Hamm, who Bloomberg estimates is currently worth $8.7 billion (after being worth as much as $18 billion), sent the handwritten check to the legal team of ex-wife Sue Ann Arnall to cover the full cash value of what he owes based on a November divorce ruling by an Oklahoma County judge.
Jacqueline Newman, a family law attorney & managing partner at Berkman Bottger Newman & Rodd in New York City, agrees with Arnell.
“While it may seem insane to most Americans that Ms. Arnall did not run to the bank to cash her check for $975M, I can understand why she handed it back,” Newman, who specializes in complex high net worth matrimonial cases and negotiating prenuptial agreements, told Business Insider in a statement. “Firstly, I agree with her attorneys that it could weaken her appellate case. Secondly, she believes (maybe correctly, maybe not) that she deserves more.
“You may ask ‘How much more than almost a billion dollars does one person need?’ That same question can be posed to her husband who had an estate valued at $18B.
“If the wife’s attorneys are able to prove to an appellate court that the her contributions to the marriage should have received a credit greater than 5.5% of the estate, then Ms. Arnall should receive a larger check than what Mr. Hamm delivered to her today.
“Think of it this way, imagine that Mr. Hamm was worth $100,000 – which would mean that Ms. Arnall would receive a $5,500 payment while Mr. Hamm kept $94,500. Would that be fair? Maybe not… maybe in that case, a court would have split the estate differently. If so, then I am not clear why the law should be inconsistent simply because we are adding a bunch of zeros to the numbers.
“The law is the law and I do not think that it should be altered because we are dealing with high net worth cases.”