After 27 years, philanthropist couple Bill and Melinda Gates decided to end their marriage.
In a joint statement shared on Twitter, the couple said: “After a lot of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.” They said they would continue to work together on the foundation they co-founded and co-chaired, but “no longer believe [they] can grow together as a couple in this next phase of [their] Lives.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has more than $ 51 billion in assets, according to CNBC and Bill, the co-founder of Microsoft, is worth around $ 130 billion, according to Forbes.
According to documents first obtained by TMZ, Melinda Gates filed for divorce, claiming their marriage was “irretrievably broken.” She is not asking for spousal or child support. The document also states that although the couple do not have a prenuptial agreement, they do have a separation agreement.
According to McKinley Irvin Family Law, a separation agreement is a written document between spouses that explains how to share their assets and responsibilities when preparing for a separation or divorce. It is not yet clear how all of the couple’s assets will be divided.
“It’s like breaking up a huge conglomerate,” said Janet George, divorce lawyer at McKinley Irvin.
After reading the divorce petition and reviewing all of the couple’s assets, including cars, homes, land and businesses, George believes the Gates have been working on this deal for some time.
According to George, the Gates might have this deal done or nearing completion and just need a judge to back it up. If they’ve already figured it out, they can get a divorce on the 91st day after filing for divorce. However, if the deal is only partially completed, it may take a few months to resolve lingering issues, such as asset valuation and valuation.
The couple’s respective lawyers will claim to have taken everything into account to ensure that each issue is resolved and the judge will simply have to sign a simple document that officially makes them divorced.
“Everything they do is very simple and straightforward because they don’t put anything in open court or on file,” said George. “I would expect them to do it that way and if they had a dispute or a conflict I would expect them not to do it in court, but to do it in within the framework of private mediation. “
If the couple cannot agree on how to divide all of their property on their own or through arbitration, then they will have to appear before a judge to present both parties and the judge will decide how to divide everything.
Washington is a community property state. This means that all property and debts accumulated during the marriage, including the income of both spouses, are presumed to be “community property” belonging to both spouses, according to the McKinley Irvin website. However, property acquired before the start of the marriage, property that has been shown to have been acquired by gift or device, and certain bodily injury settlements are considered separate property from the spouse who acquired them.
There are generally three steps in deciding how to divide the assets. First, every asset and every debt is classified as communal or separate property. Second, each asset is valued. This can be done with expertise or by the couple agreeing on the value between them. Third, assets and debts are divided between the parties. Washington law requires that the division of property by the court be “fair and equitable.”
George has stated that many times the parties can agree to simply divide certain assets in half.
For example, the couple could divide their shared actions in half. Then it doesn’t matter how much each one is, because they got equal shares.
“Often times you don’t have to appraise the assets or the parties can agree on the value rather than have it appraised,” George said. “For example, if the couple have a boat and the parties say they are going to use it part-time, it doesn’t need to be rated yet and there is a contract on how they’ll sail it. ‘would use. “
If the couple do not agree on how to divide something, or if a person wants it for themselves, they will have to know the official value of it.
While George said it might “be fun to speculate” on what will happen in the proceedings, “if they have a separation agreement it doesn’t really matter because they’ve already settled it. .