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After 27 years Bill and Melinda Gates agree to end their marriage

May 21, 2021 Speech Box

Earlier this month the news agency Reuters announced that Bill Gates, 65, who co-founded Microsoft, and his wife, co-founders of one of the world’s largest private charitable foundations, filed for divorce after 27 years of marriage pledging to continue their philanthropic work together.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has become one of the most powerful and influential forces in global public health, spending more than $50 billion over the past two decades to bring a business approach to combating poverty and disease.

In a joint petition for dissolution of marriage, the couple asserted their marriage was “irretrievably broken,” but said they had reached agreement on how to divide their marital assets. Various news reports speculate that Melinda has received $3billion.

According to Reuters in their divorce petition, the couple asks the court “to dissolve our marriage” and to divide their communal property, business interests and liabilities “as set forth in our separation contract,” though that accord was not made public.

While such Separation Agreements can be helpful, in England and Wales they are not binding on a court in financial proceedings associated with a divorce.  The terms of such a Separation Agreement are likely to be persuasive but ultimately the court can deviate from the terms of such an agreement.

It appears from the press articles that Bill and Melinda have been able to agree a Separation Agreement and that all issues between them are now resolved ahead of their divorce.

The divorce petition, which states that the couple have no minor children, comes after the youngest of their three offspring recently turned 18.

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the two said in a joint statement posted on each of their individual Twitter accounts.

“We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life,” they said.

I think what is important to note about the press coverage so far on Melinda and Bill Gates is that they appear to have resolved things without too much acrimony and in a constructive way. 

It remains to be seen whether everything is finalised and sealed on the same positive basis but, so far, so good.

One thing that I have learned in my practice over all these years is that marriages that can appear healthy on the outside are often not.  There are very few marriages without problems, big or small.  It is nevertheless sad to see such a longstanding partnership come to an end.

If you are affected by similar issues or would like to have a related discussion in confidence, please call me Louise Barretto on 020 7091 2869 or email lbarretto@bishopandsewell.co.uk

Our Family lawyers, Litigation and Forming Families teams have the knowledge and experience to guide you through these challenging times and have rankings in Legal 500 for their expertise.

The above is accurate as at 20 May 2021. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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