Bill and Melinda Gates Divorce Announcement Raises Questions About How Their Giant Fortune Will Be Split

Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing after 27 years of marriage. Inside Edition spoke to a Los Angeles divorce attorney and CNBC wealth editor about what that means for their huge fortune.

Melinda Gates is about to become one of the richest women on the planet. She and soon-to-be ex-husband Bill Gates will split a whopping $130 billion fortune, joining Mackenzie Bezos in yet another high-profile, multi-billion dollar divorce settlement. 

The couple announced Monday that they would be divorcing after 27 years of marriage — a stunning split that is taking the world by surprise. Just two weeks ago, they appeared together at a virtual global gathering. But judging by their divorce documents obtained by Inside Edition, the split has been in the works for awhile.

They’ve already agreed to a “separation contract,” which sets forth how their “assets” and "business interests” will be divided. Divorce documents also revealed that Melinda was the one who initiated the proceedings. She says the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” 

“Usually when the parties have reached a settlement agreement this early in the game, that means they have settled everything. The couple is putting on a public face that they're separating amicably. There’s always murky undercurrents. Every divorce is somewhat uncomfortable,” Los Angeles divorce attorney Kelly Chang Rickert told Inside Edition. 

The Gates have three college-aged children: Phoebe, 18; Jennifer, 25; and Rory, 21. 

Jennifer, an accomplished equestrian who is studying to be a doctor, posted a message about the divorce on Instagram. 

“It's been a challenging stretch of time for my whole family,” she wrote. “Thank you for understanding our desire for privacy while we navigate the next phases of our lives.”

They have already decided that each of their children will receive $10 million. Most of their wealth will be given way through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“We continue to share a belief in that mission,” they wrote in identical statements posted to their Twitter accounts. “...and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple.”

But splitting their possessions will be a monumental undertaking.

“This is a giant empire of both public and private investments and real estate. It includes everything from the largest number of acres of farmland in the country — over 150,000 acres. They also own the Four Seasons Hotel. They own dozens of publicly traded stocks,” CNBC wealth editor Robert Frank told Inside Edition. “How you divide all those up, maybe without selling them, is very complicated.”

Melinda met Bill Gates in the 1980s when she was working her way up the ranks at Microsoft. 

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