Bill and Melinda Gates Complicated Divorce
Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced after 27 years of marriage. This is the second billionaire divorce in the last few years, after Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos split up in 2019. The Gates have three children and run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation together. Bill Gates is the fourth wealthiest person in the world and is worth $124 billion. Their first, and possibly final, divorce hearing was set for May 14, 2021. This hearing may end their marriage if the rumors that they had been working on their divorce since 2019 are true.
No Fault Divorce
Despite all the wild internet conspiracy theories about Bill Gates, pool parties, and Jeff Epstein, Bill and Melinda Gates will have the least controversial version of divorce. No fault divorce is standard throughout the country, including Washington State where the former couple resided.
Premarital agreements are common among marriages where one partner is entering the union with significantly more assets than the other partner. Prenuptial agreements are especially important if one spouse was already a billionaire (like Bill Gates) before the marriage in order to protect their wealth in case the marriage dissolves.
However, Bill and Melinda Gates never signed a premarital agreement. At this point, it is too late for either of them to request a premarital agreement as the divorce has already been initiated. As a result, Melinda Gates may be entitled to half of their fortune, with no assets off limits.
The most significant asset of their divorce is how their assets will be divided. The Gates had reportedly been working on their separate agreement since 2019. The properties to be divided include their $130 million mansion in Seattle, and three houses in CA, each worth tens of millions. The couple also own 30 vehicles, two private jets, and their private art collection is also estimated to be worth several millions. As expected, their combined properties are very valuable.
The couple also established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation together in 2000 in Seattle. The foundation provides grants for certain initiatives on education, climate change, and public health, including $1.7 billion for vaccine research during the Covid-19 pandemic. Bill and Melinda Gates contributed more than $36 billion dollars to the foundation. However, the foundation will reportedly be left unaffected by the divorce.
Washington State (and California) is a community property state. This means that everything Bill and Melinda Gates acquired during their 27 years of marriage were jointly owned together. The presumption in community property states is that property acquired during their marriage will be divided equally between the spouses once the divorce ends. In contrast, equitable division states may deviate from the equal division of community property states if the court believes certain factors require a more uneven division. These factors may include, but are not limited to: age of the spouses, how long the marriage lasted, the health of the spouses, and the assignment of alimony.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Divorce?
The legal process for obtaining a divorce can be very confusing, so it may be wise to consult with a family lawyer to help protect your interests. A divorce attorney can help you navigate through the complicated legal process in an efficient manner.