Bill and Melinda Gates recently announced their intentions to end their marriage. For the couple whose net worth exceeds $130 billion, the financial implications are enormous, especially since the couple reportedly wed without a pre-nuptial agreement.
In a tweet, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, 65, announced in a joint statement with Melinda, 56, that the couple plans to divorce after 27 years of marriage. The statement requested privacy during their family’s adjustment, an understandable appeal.
Still, people are speculating.
Much like the hullabaloo that attended the high-profile, high net-worth divorce of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie in 2019, people are extremely interested in the process of how a couple can separate that much money.
Considering that MacKenzie walked away with a $38 billion settlement, the public interest in the Gates’ comparable situation seems understandable.
The process may be especially interesting for couples in high income brackets who may be considering taking similar steps.
This discussion will examine the implications of high-asset divorce cases, including some important concepts to understand and what to keep in mind throughout the process.
What Property Gets Divided in a Divorce?
When divorcing, people split their marital property. A married couple’s marital property, involves all types of assets, including financial holdings, stocks, real estate, automobiles, and collectables. This usually applies to property that was acquired during the marriage. Assets owed separately before the marriage may remain separate.
When many different types of assets are involved, dividing things up can be complicated. High-asset divorces can be extremely complex.
What is the Difference Between a Prenuptial Agreement and a Separation Agreement?
Although the Gates do not have a traditional prenuptial agreement, they do have a separation agreement in place. The difference is that a prenuptial agreement is entered into before the marriage takes place, whereas a separation agreement is a document that lays out the agreement reached by a married couple in anticipation of their impending divorce. A separation agreement is a good way to ensure the divorce process runs smoothly and remains amicable.
Importantly, a separation agreement can involve division of property issues as well as other arrangements such as a child custody agreement.
What Advice is Useful for High-Asset Couples Who are Planning a Divorce?
- Remember the children. One of the best pieces of advice for divorcing couples of any income bracket is to ensure that their family comes first. Children of all ages are affected by their parents’ divorce, so it makes sense to keep their interests in mind throughout the divorce process.
- The process does not have to be messy. For couples who are honest and communicative, the divorce process can be easier. Although a large amount of money and a variety of assets may complicate matters, putting everything out on the table allows for a much easier process than one in which one side or the other is hiding assets or concealing documents.
- Retain the right experts. There are many other issues that arise during these types of divorces, and as in the Gates case, the parties will probably need tax assistance, estate planning and other experts to assist on fair and equitable solutions.
The Lawyers at Burnham Douglass can assist couples in to separate and finalize high-value assets in a divorce.
If you are planning a high-asset divorce in New Jersey, you may benefit from the advice of a lawyer who has experience with helping high net-worth couples navigate the intricacies of the process. The lawyers at Burnham Douglass have the skills and understanding to guide you through the difficulties of divorce while protecting your rights and providing solid legal advice. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 856-751-5505 or contact us online. We have offices in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey, and proudly serve clients in all of New Jersey, including Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County, Salem County and Mercer County.