The Medina, Washington couple, Bill and Melinda Gates, announced their divorce after 27 years of marriage. This shocked many people as every news site are highlighting this breaking story.
Marilyn Chinitz, a partner at Blank Rome LLP in New York who specializes in complex marital splits says, marriages after 25 to 35 years are called “gray divorces, just like the hair color.”
A 2019 Netflix documentary showed Bill had a whiteboard in his bedroom that listed the pros and cons of his marriage to Melinda.
The couple also owns two properties in California, Del Mar, and Rancho Santa Fe, which is close to San Diego. The homes are valued at $43 million and $18 million, respectively.
Bill and Melinda Gates met in 1987 and married in 1994.
The Gates have three grown children, Jennifer, Rory, and Phoebe. The children range in the ages of 23 to 18.
Bill and Melinda Gates chair the largest private charitable foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
During the coronavirus in 2020, the Gates Foundation spent $300 million to fight the virus and provided funding and vaccines. In 2020, Bill Gates stepped down from the Microsoft Board so he could focus on his philanthropic work.
A brief history of Bill Gates
On April 4, 1975, childhood friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft, the software used on many computers today.
Gates was previously the youngest billionaire in 1987 when Microsoft went public when he was 31 years old.
Gates has sold or donated most of his Microsoft stock. He owns about 1% of Microsoft stock and he’s invested in other stocks and assets. The stock is valued at $26 billion. Gates previously donated $35.8 billion of Microsoft stock to the Gates Foundation.
This video gives a glimpse into Bill and Melinda Gates’ personal and family life.
The couple wrote identical statements and released them on Twitter about their divorce.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, 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,” the statement reads.
Bill and Melinda plan to continue to work together supporting their foundation.
“We continue to share a belief in [the foundation’s] mission and will continue our work together at the foundation,” the statement continues, “but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
The foundation became the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 which previously was the William H. Gates Foundation. The foundation is run by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. They support educational, health, and social-related issues worldwide.
Several sources cited the couple did not have a prenuptial agreement.
Fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos recently was divorced from MacKenzie Bezos. From their divorce, MacKenzie received 4% of the Amazon stock which was worth $38 billion. Jeff retained 75% of the couple’s Amazon stock along with voting control.
MacKenzie signed the giving pledge in May 2019 to donate at least half of her wealth to charity.
Divorce law in Washington is based on three guidelines.
1. Divorce in Washington is a "No-fault" state meaning the ate does not care whose fault it is.
2. Divorce in Washington is a community property state. This means that the spouse is entitled to all of the property.
3. Marriages filing for divorce is fair and equitable and not a "50/50" split.
With the Gates divorce, it will be interesting to see how the wealth is split between Bill and Melinda.