Bill and Melinda Gates to divorce after 27 years of marriage

They have pledged to continue their philanthropic work together.

May 4, 2021, 6:39 AM

Bill and Melinda Gates announced Monday that they are divorcing after nearly three decades of marriage but said they will keep working together at their private charitable foundation, one of the largest in the world.

"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 identical statements posted to their Twitter accounts. "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 this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life."

The Microsoft co-founder and his wife will remain co-chairs and trustees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to a spokesperson for the Seattle-based organization.

"No changes to their roles or the organization are planned," the spokesperson told ABC News in a statement Monday. "They will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues, and set the organization’s overall direction."

Bill and Melinda Gates smile at each other during an interview in Kirkland, Washington, on Feb. 1, 2019.
Elaine Thompson/AP, File

Melinda Gates, 56, filed a petition for divorce in a Seattle court on Monday. Bill Gates, 65, subsequently agreed to join the petition, according to court documents obtained by ABC News.

The petition states that the couple are already separated and have a separation contract in place, though the date and terms were not disclosed. They do not have a prenuptial agreement, according to the document.

"This marriage is irretrievably broken," the petition states. "We ask the court to dissolve our marriage and find that our marital community ended on the date stated in our separation contract."

The petition requests the court to divide the couple's property and assets as laid out in the separation contract. They have no children under the age of 18 and spousal support is not needed, according to the document.

PHOTO: In this file photo taken on May 4, 2001, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates contends with an ill-fitting hard hat while his wife, Melinda Gates, looks on at a groundbreaking ceremony in Seattle.
In this file photo taken on May 4, 2001, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates contends with an ill-fitting hard hat while his wife, Melinda Gates, looks on at the groundbreaking of the University of Washington's new law school facility, William H. Gates Hall, in Seattle.
Andy Rogers/AP, File

Bill and Melinda Gates have each hired three lawyers to represent them in their divorce case, according to court documents. Among the listed counsel for Melinda Gates is divorce attorney Robert Cohen, who has previously represented a number of high-profile clients, including Michael Bloomberg, Dina Lohan, Chris Rock, Uma Thurman and Ivana Trump.

Bill Gates is one of the richest people in the world, with his fortune currently estimated at around $130 billion, according to Forbes. He met his wife in 1987 when she started working at Microsoft as a product manager.

In her 2019 memoir, "The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World," Melinda Gates wrote that she won her husband's heart after meeting at a company dinner party where she beat him at a math game. The pair were wed in Hawaii in 1994.

The couple launched the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 to tackle poverty, disease and inequity around the world. The philanthropy had issued nearly $55 billion in total grant payments since inception through 2019, according to a fact sheet on its website.

ABC News' Taylor Dunn, Aaron Katerksy and Darren Reynolds contributed to this report.

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