What can we learn from the Gates’ divorce announcement?

The announcement this week that Bill and Melinda Gates are to divorce after 27 years of marriage has made headlines globally. With an estimated combined worth of $130.5b, the couple’s separation looks set to be the most expensive in history, and may have lasting implications for the future of Microsoft and the extensive charity work undertaken by the Gates’ foundation. Whilst most of us will never experience anything close to the wealth this couple possesses, there are some general points we can all take away from the announcement.

‘Silver Splitters’

One trend that the Gates’ announcement has highlighted is the increase in couples aged 60 and over choosing to separate, which has been noted in both the UK and the USA. The Office for National Statistics reports that between 2005 and 2015, the number of male divorcees rose by 23 percent, and by 38 percent for women. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ONS also reports that remarriages for over 65s also rose dramatically between 2007 and 2017. This trend raises the importance of careful pension planning, and is likely to mean that solicitors are faced with more complex cases as a result of lengthier marriages ,where the prospect of a pension sharing order or other direction from the court looms large.

Knowing where you stand

The Gates’ divorce is likely to be extremely complex, owing to the vast sums involved and the length of the couple’s marriage.  If nothing else, the case will highlight the need for any party to a divorce to have a solid understanding of their own finances, their earning capacity now and in the future, and any other non-financial contributions they may have made to the marriage. Having this knowledge is important before entering into any financial negotiation with the ex-spouse, or in court proceedings should negotiations be unsuccessful.  Seeking advice as early as possible from an experienced solicitor is crucial to beginning the process on the right footing.

Burd Ward’s Family Law team offer a sensitive, thoughtful and comprehensive approach to matrimonial issues. They are happy to advise and represent clients in respect of divorce, finances, and any issues relating to children. Contact our team for more details.

Posted on May 21st, 2021 by Burd Ward