Why Bill and Melinda Gates' Divorce Surprised the World

The Bill and Melinda Gates divorce was all over the news for several days, and it’s no wonder why. Bill Gates is the 4th richest human being on the planet, and when he and his wife Melinda finalize their divorce next year, she will likely join the ranks of the 1%. When ultra wealthy couples like Bill and Melinda Gates choose to separate with as many assets as a small country, it’s understandably a newsworthy story with varying interests.

Even though Bill stepped down from Microsoft in 2014, he still owns a 1.34% stake in the company, and he has other ventures he’s started since leaving the software giant. While many people are curious about the details of the couple’s divorce financials, they’re even more perplexed by the news they would be divorced without so much as a hint of a prenup. The philanthropic couple was married for 27 years, and Bill was already a billionaire at the time of their marriage. While no one will know why they chose not to get a prenuptial agreement in 1994, their divorce seems set to rank in one of the largest settlements in the country.

The couple released a joint statement announcing their separation online using Twitter:

"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage," said the former couple in part of their statement. "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."

The couple may not have a prenuptial agreement in place, but according to court documents, they have a separation agreement that will serve as the guiding document in the proceedings scheduled for April of next year.

Given that the pair were married for close to three decades, they have considerable assets and comingled interests that will be complicated to separate, regardless of how cooperative the proceedings. According to court documents, in addition to the divorce filing, Melinda Gates also filed a temporary order putting financial restrictions in place to prevent her husband from liquidating their real property or changing insurance policies unless approved by the court.

They have a great deal of property to divide. King County records have one of their largest properties, the family home Xanadu 2.0, valued at over $130 million. They also own a large California property valued at $43 million. In 2000, Bill and Melinda Gates started their self-named philanthropic organization, which has grown to global eminence. It has also grown in value, with current records estimating the business’s value at more than $40 billion. But it doesn’t look like the couple plans to split this important asset. In their joint statement, they announced their plans to continue their joint work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation irrespective of their pending divorce. The couple’s divorce seems to be off to an amicable start. Melinda Gates is not asking for spousal or child support, which is not surprising given the ages of their children and her considerable personal assets.

At Cairns Law Offices, we specialize in no-fault divorces for only $219. If the idea of a low-cost, amicable divorce appeals to you, contact us today to get started! Call us today at (888) 863-9115 to schedule a consultation.

Categories: