Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates divorce becomes official

Melinda French Gates and Bill Gates are now officially divorced, according to court records. — Reuters

Three months after they first announced their split following 27 years of marriage, Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates are officially divorced.

The marriage’s dissolution was finalised by a judge Monday in King County, Washington, according to court records, which detailed that neither party will receive “spousal support” or change their names. The judge ordered the Gateses to divide their property according to the terms of a separation contract, which remains confidential under the terms of the divorce.

Washington laws stipulate a 90-day waiting period between when a divorce is filed and finalised. TMZ earlier reported the official conclusion of the marriage.

Since the split was revealed in May, more than US$3bil (RM12.67bil) worth of shares held by Gates’s Cascade Investment has been transferred to French Gates’s name. That’s a fraction of their US$146bil (RM616.70bil) fortune at the time of the announcement, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, though it may never be known how the ex-couple’s private assets are being divvied up. Gates, 65, is now worth more than US$150bil (RM633.60bil), according to the index.

While Washington is a community property state, which means anything accumulated during marriage is considered both partners’ equally, the separation contract can supersede that as long as both parties agree and the court deems it fair. In Monday’s filing, the judge called the plan to split property “just and equitable”.

Intense focus

In the months following the divorce announcement, there’s been intense focus on the future of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Warren Buffett, the only other trustee aside from the pair, stepped down from the board in June, while the foundation announced it would add more members. French Gates, 56, meanwhile, might exit her role in two years if she and Gates cannot work together.

The couple also committed an extra US$15bil (RM63.36bil) to the organisation. That money will go to the foundation’s endowment, which stood at about US$50bil (RM211.20bil) before the announcement and has given away about as much over the past two decades.

French Gates, who filed the divorce petition in May, signed the document on July 30 from “Pivotal Ventures”, her investment and incubation firm focused on gender equality based in Washington. – Bloomberg

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