Bill & Melinda Gates’ Separation Agreement Shows ‘Exemplary Job of Resolving Their Issues’
Bill and Melinda Gates' split announcement surprised the world - but according to the documents they filed in court, their split could go smoothly, a prominent divorce lawyer told PEOPLE.
56-year-old Melinda Gates filed for divorce from her 65-year-old husband, the co-founder of Microsoft, on Monday in documents showing that she and Gates entered into a separation agreement.
Randy Kessler, a prominent divorce attorney, explains to PEOPLE that this separation contract makes it clear that the parties have resolved all problems among themselves.
"Such a separation agreement is an agreement between the parties to resolve issues that would otherwise be left to the court to rule," he says, noting that the issues typically include property sharing, support, and child-related issues.
Kessler also says that Gateses' divorce shouldn't have a material impact on her estate planning - and that they've likely already considered the impact on their three adult children.
RELATED: Jennifer Gates Says Parental Divorce Is "A Challenging Time For Our Whole Family."
"They have probably already planned or distributed what their children should have," says Kessler. "Mr. and Mrs. Gates and their attorneys solved their problems privately and professionally in exemplary fashion and therefore controlled their own affairs instead of leaving them to a judge."
Kessler says the couple's breakup should serve as a lesson to others that "despite the complexity and difficulty of the problems, it is always better to try to resolve them amicably and privately, as they did".
Bill and Melinda announced their split after 27 years of marriage in a joint statement to Twitter saying they "no longer believe that we can grow together as a couple at this next stage in our lives."
Frederic Stevens / Getty Melinda Gates, Bill Gates
In Melinda's court documents received by PEOPLE, the philanthropist said that her marriage was "irretrievably broken" and that she is not seeking spousal or child benefits - only that the court reinforce her separation contract.
She also filed an automatic temporary order setting financial restrictions that limit her and Bill's ability to dispose of property or make changes to insurance policies unless agreed in writing or ordered by the court.
Bill and Melinda are due to appear in court in April 2022, and their alternative dispute resolution date is set for March 2022.
RELATED: Bill Gates once said he wished he had thanked Melinda 2 years before they split
Their split comes nearly three decades after they tied the knot on New Years Day in Lanai, Hawaii after meeting Microsoft, which was a start-up at the time.
In recent years they have taken in three children (son Rory John (21) and daughters Phoebe Adele (18) and Jennifer Katharine (25)) and in 2000 they set up the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest private foundations belongs in the world.
According to Forbes, Bill Gates is worth around $ 130.5 billion and is one of the richest people in the world. He reportedly resigned as Microsoft chairman in 2014, but still owns 1.34 percent of the company. Melinda's individual assets have not been publicly disclosed.
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