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Texas oil tycoon's divorce begs question of property division

Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens will soon go through the divorce process once more, as he prepares to split from his fourth wife. While a spokesman for the accomplished businessman and philanthropist called the separation "amicable," the entrepreneur and his attorneys will still have to work towards an equitable division of any shared assets.

Property division in Texas is a complex process, and frequently relies on a judge's discretion when it comes to determining who gets what. In some states, there is a general "50/50" division of community property, but in Texas, judges look more closely at the particular situation. If a prenuptial agreement exists - as is probably the case with Boone Pickens - the division can be more efficient.

A native of Oklahoma, Boone Pickens amassed a fortune in Texas in the oil industry. His wife is an advocate for animal rights, with animal welfare projects in both California and Nevada. She has been married to Boone Pickens for seven years.

Boone Pickens, 84, has become a colorful political character over the years, advocating for alternative energy and donating millions of dollars to charitable causes. His expressive speech has made him a sought-after speaker, and some of his notable quotes emphasize playing by the rules and acting ethically.

These traits are essential during divorce, especially if one has been married multiple times while building-up a business or charity. Much of Boone Pickens' wealth was likely developed before his 2005 marriage to his current wife, and thus is not likely to count as community property.

During his most recent seven year union, however, assets purchased with community funds will merit review during property division. Depending on their lifestyle, the former couple could have acquired extensive community property during their marriage; even if they did not, the sheer amount of Boone Pickens' wealth could urge the judge in their case to take his or her time.

Source: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, 4th wife to divorce," Oct. 2, 2012.

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

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