One of the world's most wealthy couples have filed for divorce after more than two decades of marriage.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, philanthropist and writer Melinda Gates announced the end of their 27-year marriage via social media. A joint statement issued by the pair and posted on their respective social media accounts spoke about how "after a great deal of though and a lot of work on our relationship," the two decided to file for a divorce.
In detailing their decades-long marriage, the two highlighted how they raised three children, Jennifer who is 24, Rory who is 20, and Phoebe who is 18, and built the wide-reaching Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which they described as "a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives."
"We continue to share in the belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives," Bill and Melinda Gates wrote in their joint statement, as per Faithwire. The couple also asked for "space and privacy" through their divorce.
Bill and Melinda Gates' divorce comes just after their youngest child had turned 18. According to People, Melinda filed the divorce papers in King County, Washington. The petition stated that the 27-year marriage is "irretrievably broken" and that "spousal support is not needed." Melinda said in the papers, "We ask the court to dissolve our marriage and find that our marital community ended on the date stated in our separation contract."
The two are scheduled to appear in court in April 2022 with an Alternative Dispute Resolution in March 2022. Melinda had also filed for temporary restraining orders on both of their abilities to "dispose of property or make changes to insurance policies, except as agreed in writing or as ordered by the court." The two married on the first of January 1994 and were a couple for 34 years.
Bill Gates, whose possessions are estimated to be worth $130.5 billion according to Forbes, is currently the fourth wealthiest man in the world after Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Tesla and SpaceX's Elon Musk, and LVMH's Bernard Arnault and his family. Rounding up the top 5 is Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.
Reuters described the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as "one of the most powerful and influential forces in global public health," funneling over $50 billion in the last 20 years into applying a business approach in solving poverty and disease. The foundation has been involved in scientific programs to combat malaria and polio, and had even pledged $1.75 billion to COVID-19 relief.
Towards the end of 2019, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation reported net assets of $43.3 billion. Despite their divorce, however, the two remain as co-chairs and trustees of the organization. A statement from the foundation assured that the two will "continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation's issues, and set the organization's overall direction."