Justia Energy, Oil & Gas Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Family Law
Nicole Fitzpatrick obtained a dissolution of her marriage to Jeremy Fitzpatrick. The couple had minor children and significant marital assets, including real property, bank accounts, investments, and personal possessions. Among these were investments in oil and gas assets. The issue this case presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s review centered on the Court of Civil Appeals decision regarding the division of the oil and gas assets. During the course of the marriage, Husband pursued a mutual goal of investments in oil and gas assets through two different ventures. He inextricably tied the Bakken and Energy deals and encumbered marital assets. The trial court found that all the A and B units of both the Bakken and Energy properties were acquired during the marriage through joint efforts of both parties, and were marital property subject to division. Because part of the properties' value lay in their future growth, the trial court considered the most equitable form of property division. The court ordered that future distributions and proceeds flowing from both sets of A and B units were to be held in constructive trust for both parties' benefit, and for Husband to distribute her equal marital share to Wife. COCA reversed the trial court's decisions regarding the Energy A and B units, finding that the trial court should have determined the units' value and set a valuation date. COCA also found that the trial court's use of a constructive trust for the Energy units was not proper. However, COCA did not disturb the trial court's use of a constructive trust with regard to the Bakken units. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s authority to distribute the assets although they could not be valued at the time of the divorce decree; the Court concurred with the trial court’s imposition of a constructive trust to ensure protection of the assets’ future value. View "Fitzpatrick v. Fitzpatrick" on Justia Law