Celebrated American billionaire and Microsoft founder, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, who announced their split on Monday after 27 years of marriage, have no prenuptial agreement, court papers have revealed.
A prenuptial agreement (“prenup” for short) is a written contract created by two people before they are married. The contract typically lists all of the property each person owns (as well as any debts) and specifies what each person’s property rights will be after the marriage.
Court papers also showed that the couple was separated before taking the divorce decision. It, however, did not show the date of their separation.
News of their divorce surprised many, and, as is often the case with high-profile and wealthy couples, the public immediately began to speculate over the financial implications of the divorce.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after they made their last public appearance, virtually, at a COVID event for healthcare worker.
Bill and Melinda share three children together: Jennifer, 25, Rory, 21, and Phoebe, 18. They share a mansion in Washington, known for incorporating advanced technologies in its design.
According to TMZ, court documents shows that Melinda Gates, 56, filed the divorce petition in which she described her marriage to Bill Gates, 64, as ‘irretrievably broken’.
In the divorce petition, which was filed in Superior Court of Washington – King County on Monday, Melinda asked the judge to dissolved the marriage “on the date stated in our separation contract”. The separation contract was, however, not included in the filing so that date is unclear.
In the absence of the pre-nuptial agreement, the only agreement pertaining to the divorce is the separation contract.
Melinda did not ask for any spousal support but requested a trial date in April 2022. However it is likely the divorce will be settled without a trial.
The petition states that finances pertaining to the couple’s three children are addressed in the separation contract. The document was signed by both Bill and Melinda, as well as their attorneys.
The former couple hired powerhouse law firms to assist in the divorce. Melinda is represented by a team of four New York based attorneys from two separate firms: Cohen Clair Lane Griefer Thorpe & Rottenstreich LLP and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
Bill is represented by three Los Angeles-based attorneys from Munger Tolles & Olson. One of the attorneys, Charles T Munger, is a longtime partner of Bill’s billionaire friend, Warren Buffett.
Bill is best known for founding Microsoft in 1975 with Paul Allen. He’s been distancing himself from the company lately, stepping down as a board member last spring. He has also sold or given away the majority of his stock in the tech company, now only owning just over 1% of shares.
Meanwhile, Bill Gates, one of the world’s richest men has been removed from Bloomberg’s billionaire list after news of his divorce from Melinda Gates.
The business platform took the action shortly after news of Gates’ divorce to his wife of 27 years went viral.
Before being taken off the list, Gates was fourth on the index with a net worth of $145 billion, having gained over $13 billion in 2021 alone.
Financial details of their parting ways are not yet clear but Melinda may take half of her estrange husband’s wealth.