Bill and Melinda Gates confirmed in a joint statement on Twitter they are divorcing. Melinda Gates said in a divorce filing the couple's 27-year marriage "is irretrievably broken."
In divorce documents obtained by TMZ, Melinda Gates asked a judge in King County, Washington, to rule the marriage ended "as of the date in the separation contract."
TMZ said the separation contract wasn't included in the filing but the documents didn't reflect any prenuptial agreements.
Based on these documents, Melinda Gates hasn't sought spousal support. Observers expect the divorce proceedings to be settled quickly and without fuss.
The filing said the couple requested approval of their agreement for division of assets. The details of this agreement aren't known.
In a joint statement on Twitter, the couple said they put "a lot of work on our relationship."
The statement said the two would continue to work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was founded in 2000. As of 2014, it was estimated the couple had donated $28 billion to the foundation.
The Gates are listed as joint chairpeople and trustees of the nonprofit organization. In 2019, the foundation's net assets were $43.3 billion, according to its website.
Shortly after the divorce announcement observers questioned the future of the couple's fortune. Rob Reich, a professor of political science at Stanford University, said the divorce "may have huge repercussions for the foundation and for its work across the globe."
The Gates said there would be no shake up at the foundation that has helped many causes. However, even workers there are wondering how things will be after the split.
A former staff member said people within the couple's circle believed the organization's future strategies and plans would be based largely on how amicable the divorce is.
Foundation chief executive Mark Suzman told employees in an email that, so far, the only changes were "some short-term adjustments to their schedules."
In the latest Forbes' Billionaires list, Bill Gates is the world's fourth richest person. He is estimated by the magazine to have $124 billion.
As of December 2019, Bill Gates is said to hold more than 100 million shares of Microsoft, the company he founded in 1975 and one of the world's biggest software companies.
The couple own a Washington state mansion said to have a price tag of more than $120 million. There is also a private plane.
Melinda Gates isn't in the Top 100 of Forbes' list. However, she ranked fifth in its 100 Most Powerful Women of 2020.
Spear's Wealth Management Survey estimated Melinda Gates' net worth at $70 billion.
The couple have three children. They married in Hawaii in 1994.