The Bill and Melinda Gates Divorce—What is a Separation Agreement?


The Bill and Melinda Gates Divorce—What is a Separation Agreement?

The big news earlier this year was that Bill and Melinda Gates decided to divorce after a 27-year marriage.  The biggest follow-up news story concerning their divorce is that the couple has no prenuptial agreement.  A closer read, however, indicates that they do have a “separation agreement.”  What does that mean?

A prenuptial agreement—sometimes shortened to “prenup”—is an agreement between two people who intend to get married in the future.  A prenuptial agreement spells out how property would be divided in the event of a divorce.  While not for everybody, it can make sense to consider a prenuptial agreement if one party has substantial assets or owns her or his own business.  Divorce can get ugly, and having a prenuptial agreement can make it a lot less so by pre-deciding how things will be divided.

A separation agreement—sometimes called a post-nuptial agreement, or “post-nup”—is an agreement between two spouses that is reached after the marriage, but prior to the divorce being filed.  A separation agreement generally has the same legal effect as a prenuptial agreement, with the only difference being the time it is signed.  Some spouses choose to enter into a separation agreement when the marriage is going well to put things in place in the event of a divorce, but, more frequently, they are done when spouses who generally get along are considering divorce, but want to do so as amicably as possible.

According to court filings, Bill and Melinda Gates did not have a prenuptial agreement, which, considering their respective assets at the time they were married, may be surprising to some.  However, the filings also indicate that they did enter into a separation agreement at some point after their marriage.  We do not know if this agreement was reached last month or 20 years ago, and, due to privacy laws, the specifics will most likely remain shielded from public view.  What we do know is that based on the existence of a separation agreement, along with their very respectful public announcements, the Gates divorce is shaping up to be quite boring, which, for the Gates family, is a wonderful thing.

If you are looking for a lawyer to help you with a prenuptial agreement or separation agreement, we are here to help.  We have vast experience in all areas of family law, and have helped countless families with their prenuptial and separation agreement needs.  If you have questions, call to schedule a consultation today.  We are here to help


About the author

About Gerry Gebhart

Gerry graduated from Drexel University magna cum laude with a degree in Information Systems and a minor in Business Administration. After working as a consultant in the intermodal transportation industry, Gerry enrolled in and graduated from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, where he specialized in trial advocacy. Prior to joining LaMonaca Law, Gerry practiced Family Law privately while working at the Public Defender’s office. Gerry quickly gained a reputation as a savvy trial attorney, securing numerous successful trial verdicts, eventually resulting in his being elected as president of the Delaware County Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association. Gerry lives in Middletown Township where he is active in his local firehouse as both a firefighter and member of the board of directors.