Bill Gates and his wife Melinda did not sign a prenuptial agreement before their 1994 wedding, which means the Microsoft founder’s $130 billion fortune will be in play as the two divorce after 27 years of marriage.
“Lawyers are shocked there was no prenup, given Bill had already made his first billion dollars at the age of 31 in 1987 – the same year he met Melinda. Now, their myriad assets are up for grabs,” The Daily Mail reported on Tuesday.
“In her petition for divorce, Melinda says spousal support is ‘not needed’ – meaning she won’t seek regular payments from Bill but take a settlement which is likely to be privately negotiated, if it hasn’t already been decided upon,” the U.K. paper said.
Bill, 65, has hired billionaire lawyer friend Charlie T. Munger, 97, to represent him in his divorce. It’s unclear who is representing Melinda.
In documents filed in Washington state, where the couple lives, Melinda, 56, said their marriage was “irretrievably broken.”
In a joint statement posted to their Twitter accounts on Monday, the couple said their work with The Gates Foundation will continue but not their marriage. “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 brief statement posted on Twitter. “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.”
But they said, “We no longer feel we are able to grow as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation,” they added.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 3, 2021
The couple’s eldest daughter, 25-year-old Jennifer Gates, also spoke publicly on social media for the first time.
In a statement shared to her Instagram account on Monday, she addressed her “friends.”
“By now, many of you have heard the news that my parents are separating. It’s been a challenging stretch of time for our whole family,” her statement began. “I’m still learning how to best support my own process and emotions as well as family members at this time, and am grateful for the space to do so. I won’t personally comment further on anything around the separation, but please know that your kind words and support mean the world to me.”
The Mail said much of the work of separating appears to already be done.
“While the couple have no prenup, it appears a lot of the work of dividing up their estate – which includes properties in five states, a private jet, an astonishing art collection and a fleet of luxury cars – has already been done, as their divorce papers repeatedly refer to a ‘separation contract’ which both have signed. The contract itself has not been made public,” the paper said.
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