Bill and Melinda Gates eldest daughter Jennifer has described the ‘challenging stretch of time’ the family are facing due to their parents divorce.
Jennifer, 25, the oldest of the former couple’s three children opened up in an emotional Instagram post following Monday night’s shock announcement that Bill and Melinda are ending their marriage after 27 years.
She wrote: ‘I won’t personally comment further on anything around the separation, but please know that your kind words and support mean the world to me,’ she wrote.
Jennifer is the oldest of Bill and Melinda’s three children, followed by 21-year-old son Rory and 18-year-old daughter Phoebe.
Jennifer Gates, 25, (left) responded to the news of her parents’ split in an Instagram post on Monday (right)
Pictured L-R: Melinda, Bill, Jennifer, Phoebe and Rory Gates in an Instagram post following Jennifer’s graduation from Stanford
The 65-year-old Microsoft founder and his 56-year-old wife shared the news with identical statements on Twitter (pictured)
A Stanford graduate, she took a year off to focus on her equestrian career, before enrolling at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York.
As a showjumper, Jennifer competed against the offspring of other famous parents including Steve Jobs’ daughter Eve and Michael Bloomberg’s daughter Georgina, as well as Bruce Springsteen’s daughter Jessica, and Steven Spielberg’s daughter Destry.
Jennifer is engaged to Egyptian show jumper Nayel Nassar.
Her comments came as the Gates’ – one of the world’s richest couples with a fortune of $130billion – announced they were ending their 27-year marriage.
In a joint statement posted to their Twitter accounts on Monday, the pair said their work with their foundation will continue but their marriage will not.
‘After a great deal of thought and a lot of work, we have made the decision to end our marriage.
‘Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives.
‘We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue to work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.’
The announcement came less than two weeks after the couple appeared together, virtually, at an event for healthcare workers.
Bill, 65, and Melinda, 56, met in 1987 while she was working at Microsoft, the company that he founded. That same year, Bill became the world’s youngest billionaire at the age of 31.
The couple married in Hawaii 1994 and would go on to establish the world’s largest charitable foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in 2000.
Melinda filed a petition for divorce from Bill on Monday in the Superior Court of Washington – King County. In the petition (pictured) she described their marriage as ‘irretrievably broken’
Since then, it has contributed more than $50billion to causes including eradicating polio and malaria. The foundation has also been a major investor in coronavirus treatments.
While the couple have no prenup, it appears a lot of the work of dividing up their estate – which includes properties in five states, a private jet, an astonishing art collection and a fleet of luxury cars – has already been done, as their divorce papers repeatedly refer to a ‘separation contract’ which both have signed. The contract itself has not been made public.
The documents were filed by Melinda and obtained by DailyMail.com.
The reason behind their split after more than a quarter-century remains a mystery but Melinda has previously suggested her husband had trouble balancing work and family.
In their divorce filing, Bill and Melinda Gates make it clear that they have no prenuptial agreement – but the papers make repeated reference to a ‘separation contract’ which will divide up their estate.
A separation contract, or separation agreement, is a legally binding document drawn up by divorcing couples in advance of their split in which they agree how to split their lives – including child custody and access, debts and property.
It is governed by contract law, meaning that either party can sue the other for breach of contract if the agreement is broken.
Signing a separation contract allows a couple to divide their assets by mutual agreement, rather than having to go to court.
For the average couple, this means saving money in lawyers’ fees. For Bill and Melinda Gates, it avoids a lengthy, public process during which details about their private lives an assets may have been revealed.
However, a separation agreement is not necessarily final and a judge may overrule it if they feel the contract is unfair to the children involved, unfair to one of the partners, or that one partner has not fully disclosed their assets or earnings to be divvied up.
Read More: DailyMail