Almost exactly three months after announcing their split, Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates are now officially divorced. On Monday, a Washington court approved the dissolution of their marriage, which documents filed by French Gates called “irretrievably broken.” Surprisingly, neither party plans to change their name, per CNN. Unsurprisingly, neither party will receive spousal support.
For now, Gates and French Gates will continue running their foundation together under a two-year trial period. “If after two years either decides they cannot continue to work together as co-chairs, French Gates will resign her position as co-chair and trustee,” Mark Suzman, foundation CEO, said, per CNN. If that happens, Gates would buy French Gates out of her share, and he would remain in control of the foundation. Suzman added that in this scenario, French Gates would also receive “personal resources” from Gates to put toward her own philanthropic work. These resources would be “completely separate from the foundation’s endowment.”
It’s still unclear how their multibillion-dollar fortune will be split. Washington, their home state, requires all assets accumulated during a marriage be divided equally in the event of a divorce. However, the Gates’s split is being carried out under the terms of a separation contract. While the details of this contract are unknown, the judge who finalized their divorce said the terms are “just and equitable.” Gates is currently the fourth-richest person in the world, worth an estimated $151 billion, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which the two co-founded, has an endowment of around $50 billion.
Neither party has given extensive details on the reason for their split. As they wrote in their joint statement announcing the divorce in May, “We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we can no longer grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.” There was speculation that Gates’s relationship with convicted sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein and allegations of Gates’s workplace misconduct contributed to their split; a 2019 Times article contained details about Gates and Epstein’s relationship that French Gates had reportedly been unaware of previously. Sources close to French Gates say she began consulting divorce lawyers shortly after the story’s publication.