An earlier post on this blog reported on a statement from Bill Gates that he and his spouse of 27 years, Melinda, were headed for divorce. It was Melinda Gates who filed a petition to divorce in May, stating that her marriage was “irretrievably broken,” an issue to which many New Hampshire spouses can no doubt relate. Recent headlines say the former Gates couple has since finalized their divorce proceeding.
Washington is a community property state
Every state has its own property division guidelines in divorce. This state is one of nine that operate under community property rules, meaning that, in most cases, marital assets are split 50/50 between spouses in a divorce. In the Gates’s divorce, however, property division issues were specifically addressed in a separation agreement that they both signed.
Bill Gates might wind up buying out Melinda’s shares in their Foundation
A unique aspect of the Gates’s separation agreement pertains to the Gates Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic foundations in the world that the former couple started together. In their agreement, both parties have agreed to continue working together at the Foundation. However, Melinda, who is an acting co-chair and trustee, has agreed that, if, after two years, she and her ex determine that they can no longer work together, she will resign her positions and Bill Gates will buy out her shares. Melinda Gates would then receive financial resources from Bill Gates to continue her own philanthropic work independently of the Gates Foundation.
Spouses can negotiate terms of agreement
In New Hampshire and elsewhere, a pair of spouses is not restricted to one type of divorce agreement. Spouses may customize the terms of an agreement in accordance with state laws in order to protect their own interests and achieve a fair settlement. A concerned spouse in need of support may request a meeting with an experienced family law attorney before heading to court.