Bill and Melinda Gates: a solid Foundation for a divorce

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Let’s begin by stating the obvious here: the Gates’ will weather their divorce very well, regardless of climate change.

What is worth noting is that the couple are ending their 27 year marriage in the style that suits them and being true to themselves: on a conciliatory, agreed basis with, it would seem, a huge degree of mutual respect.

Bill is the fourth wealthiest person in the world, amassing £89 billion since the Microsoft inception days of the 1970s. Melinda is not without her own robust private and jointly grown wealth. The Gates’ Foundation mission statement revolves around an ethos of “non-profit, fighting poverty, disease and inequity around the world.”  (We are undoubtedly in a much better place Covid-19 wise as a result of the associated research and initiatives funded by the Foundation.) Therefore, presuming they practice personally that which they preach publicly, we can reasonably guess that the “separation contract” they have entered into is fair and morally palatable from both sides. A partnership and a separation of equals, but one which took some work on both parts, as Melinda had been the stay at home parent to their three children.

It is all about the best use of the resources available to the parties; accessing quality legal advice (one of Melinda’s lawyers previously acted for Ivanka Trump) and settling on that which fits for the people involved. Their divorce “contract” is a private and personal matter and will ensure the Gates maintain control of their settlement terms, rather than inviting a Judge to determine the same via applications.

As a Collaborative lawyer, I promote a client’s need to have a personal voice in their own separation or divorce. The terms of a well-considered, workable agreement or consent order (or “separation contract”) will resonate with the values and personalities of the people involved. The Collaborative experience empowers those who are parting to bring about fair closure, with creativity and without the constraints of the Court process (not least the heightened delays experienced in the last 18 months). It is not for everyone, but that is the point: if it fits for you and your family, then it will work.

And the best bit? You don’t need billions of dollars or pounds to create a settlement which works for you and reflects who you are!

However, let’s also end by stating another possible truism: the ultimate ownership of a $43 million beach house in California (etc, etc, etc) would be a wonderful problem to have, wouldn’t it…

Jackie Mensah is an associate solicitor within our Family Law department. To discuss any family law-related issue with her or the team, get in touch by calling 01903 229999 or by emailing

Disclaimer: Please note that this update is not intended to be exhaustive or be a substitute for legal advice. The application of the law in this area will often depend upon the specific facts and you are advised to seek specific advice on any given scenario.