They say that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. One could argue that same is true for wealth. By any standard, the $130-145 billion (depending on the day) involved in Bill and Melinda Gates divorce is a lot of wealth. Nevertheless, cerebral founder of Microsoft and the former Microsoft GM followed in the footsteps of Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos who also did not have prenup before his 20-plus year marriage to MacKenzie.
Unlike the Bezos, who had relatively modest wealth at the beginning of their marriage, Gates’ company was already worth billions. And during their time together, the Gates took that money and put it into the Gates Foundation, which has changed global philanthropy forever. The two will remain foundation co-chairs together and trustees.
Separation agreement in place
The Gates did draft a separation agreement in 2019. This agreement is said to be binding unless the court finds it unfair. Since the agreement was likely hammered out with attorneys for months before the 2021 announcement. It also promotes a settlement the couple created themselves.
Rather than litigating in court, the couple chose to use an agreement that also keeps the divorce agreement private. This is a huge benefit for public figures and the wealthy who would rather keep the details of their divorce private, particularly concerning dividing assets. Instead, the court papers will say, “see separation contract.”
Many benefits for avoiding court
The privacy issue is an important reason why couples choose not to litigate their divorce. There are other benefits as well. Those with questions should discuss these options with their attorney to determine (after consulting the spouse) what is the best option for moving forward.