Melinda Gates’ petition for divorce says marriage to Bill is ‘irretrievably broken’

May 5, 2021

It was a marriage made at Microsoft that produced three children, a philanthropic foundation—and now, after 27 years, a separation contract. Indeed, Melinda Gates says her marriage to Bill Gates is “irretrievably broken,” according to court documents obtained Tuesday by NBC News.

In her petition for divorce, filed Monday in King County, Washington, she said “spousal support is not needed” and a separation contract will determine property divisions.

“We ask the court to dissolve our marriage and find that our marital community ended on the date stated in our separation contract,” according to the document. It is not clear from the petition when the couple separated or if they had a prenuptial agreement.

Bill, 65, and Melinda Gates, 56, first announced their divorce on Monday, May 3,  in a joint statement. The pair, who married on New Year’s Day in Hawaii in 1994, said that they no longer “believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” they said in the statement, according to NBC. “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.”

Jennifer Katharine Gates, 25, the oldest of their offspring, wrote in a statement that it has “been a challenging stretch of time for our whole family.”

“I’m still learning how to best support my own process and emotions as well as family members at this time,” she wrote.

The couple in 2000 founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a private philanthropic organization which funds research and advocacy work across the globe, including in some of the world’s most impoverished nations.

The foundation has given billions to support issues like global healthdevelopment and education, as well as combating climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975 and served as its chief executive until 2000, stepped down from the company’s board last year and has since focused the majority of his efforts on philanthropy.

He still owns roughly 1.3% of Microsoft’s shares. His net worth is roughly $130 billion, according to Forbes—making him the fourth-richest person in the world.

The Gates Foundation’s assets are nearly $50 billion, according to its financial statements, and it’s been considered the world’s largest private philanthropic organization for the past 20 years. It issued about $5 billion in grants annually during 2018 and 2019.

In their statement announcing their split, the couple—who are co-chairs of the foundation—said they would continue to work together in the philanthropic mission.

Research contact: @NBCNews

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