The world’s billionaire couple, Bill and Melinda Gates posted a joint statement on Twitter Monday, 3 May, about their divorce and this is probably the most shocking news of the year so far. Court papers showed that they were separated before taking the divorce decision. The court papers, however, did not show the date of their separation. “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work, we have made the decision to end our marriage. ”
Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives. We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue to work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life,” they said in the joint statement.
The court papers also showed that Melinda Gates, 56, filed the divorce petition in which she described her marriage to Bill Gates, 64, as ‘irretrievably broken.’ The documents posted by TMZ.com, also showed that the Microsoft founder, who is the fourth richest man in the world with a fortune of about $130billion, did not sign a prenuptial agreement with his estranged wife of over 27 years.
The implication of not having a prenuptial agreement is that the two have nothing to help them navigate dividing their wealth which includes properties in five states, a private jet, an astonishing art collection, and a fleet of luxury cars. In the divorce petition, which was filed in the superior court of Washington King County on Monday, Melinda asked the judge to dissolve the marriage ‘on the date stated in our separation contract’.
The separation contract was, however, not included in the filing so that date is unclear. In the absence of the pre-nuptial agreement, the only agreement pertaining to the divorce is the separation contract. Melinda did not ask for any spousal support but requested a trial date in April 2022. However, it is likely the divorce will be settled without a trial. The petition states that finances pertaining to the couple’s three children are addressed in the separation contract.
The document was signed by both Bill and Melinda, as well as their attorneys. Both Bill and Melinda hired powerhouse law firms to assist in the divorce. Melinda is represented by a team of four New York-based attorneys from two separate firms: Cohen Clair Lane Griefer Thorpe & Rottenstreich LLP and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
Bill is represented by three Los Angeles-based attorneys from Munger Tolles & Olson. One of the attorneys, Charles T Munger, is a longtime partner of Bill’s billionaire friend Warren Buffett. The announcement comes less than two weeks after they made their last public appearance, virtually, at a Covid-19 event for healthcare workers.