Bill Gates, 65, the fourth wealthiest person in the world, worth an estimated £89bn, and his wife Melinda have today announced their intention to divorce after 27 years of marriage, saying "we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple".
In a joint tweet they continued: "After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,".
Melinda joined Microsoft in 1987 where she met her future husband who co-founded the firm. They married in 1994 and have three children.
The Gates are committed philanthropists and have given billions to charity. They jointly founded the $43bn Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. The charity supports initiatives on health, education and funds research into climate change. It gave c$1.75bn to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. The couple have paid c$36bn into the foundation over the last 25 years and Bill, stepped down from Microsoft's board in 2020 to focus on his charitable work.
The Gates are also supporters of the Giving Pledge through which they have committed to giving away the majority of their wealth to charity.
In their tweeted announcement the couple stated : "Over the last 27 years, 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. We continue to share a 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 the next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life."
The couple have always regarded themselves as an equal partnership and Melinda has been vocal in her support for equality for women.
The couple have always valued their privacy and it is likely that a financial settlement has already been worked out in private between them. US community of property laws suggest that the starting point would be an equal split of assets and bearing in mind the length of their marriage it is unlikely that they have a pre nuptial agreement. The couple intend to continue to work together on their charitable initiatives.
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