ISLAMABAD: The split of Bill and Melinda Gates, who are worth $146 billion, will be the largest divorce settlements in history due to the sheer size of their fortune.
Gates, 65, is the fourth-wealthiest person in the world behind Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Bernard Arnault, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Court documents submitted by Mrs Gates, 56, a copy of which was published by website TMZ, revealed that the couple previously signed a separation agreement, which provides a framework on how to move forward with the divorce.
As the petitioner, Mrs Gates, asked the court to divide the couple’s property and debts according to the terms of the separation contract. She is not requesting spousal support. Mr Gates signed the documents.
The Gates family resides in Washington state, where divorce law is governed by a principle called community property. All assets acquired by either party during a marriage are typically split equally during divorce in the absence of a prenuptial agreement.
The couple run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the most influential non-profit organisations in the world that spends $5 billion annually on fighting poverty, disease and inequality around the world.
If they split their fortune equally, Mrs Gates is estimated to be worth $73bn, making the divorce the most expensive in the world to date.
The Microsoft founder’s wife filed the divorce documents on May 3 after 27 years of marriage.
“This marriage is irretrievably broken. We ask the court to dissolve our marriage and find that our marital community ended on the date stated in our separation contract,” the court document read.
The Gates began dating in 1987 and wed on January 1, 1994, in Hawaii. The couple has three children.
Earlier, the most expensive divorce settlement was between Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Scot, who split in 2019. Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the world’s richest man with a net worth of $197bn, paid $38bn to settle the divorce with his wife of about 26 years.
Bezos announced he would retain 75 percent of the company shares, while his former wife received a 4 percent stake in Amazon. – TLTP