Ctrl+Alt+Del: Reasons for the Bill Gates Divorce

Ctrl+Alt+Del is not only how you end a Windows session or unfreeze a stuck screen, it just may be how to end a marriage. The Wall Street Journal is reporting on a possible new reason for the Bill Gates divorce, and the DOS command line is c:\Epstein.

Bill Gates Divorce

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We are learning the separation between Bill and Melinda Gates, announced on twitter last week, has actually been in the works for years. Ms. Gates consulted with divorce lawyers roughly two years before she filed for divorce from Mr. Gates, saying their marriage was “irretrievably broken,” according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The 56-year-old philanthropist has been working with lawyers at several firms since at least 2019 to unwind the marriage of more than 25 years, according to these people and the documents. Last Monday, the billionaire couple announced they were ending their marriage. In a joint statement posted on Twitter, they said:

“we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”

The couple hasn’t said what prompted the split. One source of concern for Ms. Gates was her husband’s dealings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to the people and a former employee of their charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Ms. Gates’s concerns about the relationship dated as far back as 2013, the former employee said.

According to the documents reviewed by the Journal, Ms. Gates and her advisers held a number of calls in October 2019 when the New York Times reported that Mr. Gates had met with Mr. Epstein on numerous occasions. Mr. Gates once stayed late into the night at Mr. Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse, the Times reported.

When asked about his relationship with Mr. Epstein in a September 2019 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Gates said:

“I met him. I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him.”

Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gates, said in 2019 that the software mogul and Mr. Epstein had met multiple times to discuss philanthropy.

Bill Gates regrets ever meeting with Epstein and recognizes it was an error in judgment to do so Ms. Arnold said at the time. Mr. Epstein died in jail in August 2019 awaiting trial on federal charges related to sex trafficking.

Florida Divorce

The official term for divorce in Florida is “dissolution of marriage”, and you don’t need fault as a ground for divorce. Florida abolished fault as a ground for divorce. So, if your spouse is either out logging too much computer time, or late night meetings at Jeffrey Epstein Manhattan apartment, you don’t need to allege those as grounds for divorce.

I’ve written about divorce reasons before. The no-fault concept in Florida means you no longer have to prove a reason for the divorce, like your spouse’s new friends. Instead, you just need to state under oath that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Before the no-fault divorce era, people who wanted to get divorce either had to reach agreement in advance with the other spouse that the marriage was over or throw mud at each other and prove wrongdoing like collaboration or weakening the revolutionary spirit.

No-fault laws were the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. No fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. The only ground you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Additionally, the mental incapacity of one of the parties, where the party was adjudged incapacitated for the prior three year, is another avenue.

Shut Down or Restart?

The couple negotiated their divorce throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the documents show. They have three children who are all now 18 years or older, the divorce filing shows. The youngest is a senior in high school.

Ms. Gates, a global advocate for women and girls, had told her husband she was uncomfortable with Mr. Epstein after the couple met him together in 2013, the former employee of the Gates Foundation said. Mr. Gates and some employees of the Gates Foundation continued a relationship with Mr. Epstein despite her concerns, this person said.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Gates, who is 65 years old, said Friday he stands by his 2019 statement to the Journal and declined to comment further. A spokeswoman for Ms. Gates didn’t respond to questions about her reasons for seeking a divorce.

In early 2020, Mr. and Ms. Gates surprised many people when they said they wouldn’t attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an annual gathering of business and world leaders that the power couple had attended for years. A few months later, on March 13, Mr. Gates said he was resigning from the boards of Microsoft Corp. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The Microsoft co-founder said he planned to focus more on his philanthropic efforts. By that time, the Gateses were already in discussions to divide their vast wealth, according to the people familiar with the matter and the documents. Legal teams from both sides were privately in discussions with a mediator to work out a separation, the documents show.

The May 3 divorce filing says the couple had agreed to a separation contract to divide their assets—a fortune estimated at $130 billion by Forbes. Their assets include a $131 million lakeside compound in Washington state called Xanadu 2.0, a rare Leonardo da Vinci notebook and investments in Microsoft and Four Seasons Hotels.

Last week, Mr. Gates’s investment firm transferred nearly $2.4 billion worth of public company shares to Ms. Gates, including stakes in car-dealership owner AutoNation Inc., a Mexican broadcaster and a Canadian railroad.

The Gateses have said they would give away most of their wealth and donated more than $36 billion to the Gates Foundation over the years. The couple said they planned to remain co-chairs at the foundation and jointly lead it after their divorce. “We continue to share a belief in that mission,” they said in their Twitter statement.

Ms. Gates signed her divorce petition in Washington, near the family home and the foundation’s headquarters, according to the filing. Mr. Gates signed the papers from California.

The Wall Street Journal article is here.

 

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