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Melinda Gates could become the world's second-richest woman after her divorce from billionaire Microsoft founder Bill.
The couple announced they were splitting up after 27 years of marriage, with a court filing stating that their marriage had been "irretrievably broken".
They have called on the courts to divide up their combined $146 billion (£105 billion) fortune.
It is believed a 50-50 split of assets is likely because the couple did not sign a prenuptial agreement when they tied the knot in 1994.
It would leave Melinda with a fortune of $73 billion (£52 billion).
If that transpires Melinda will rank behind only Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, the 67-year-old L’Oreal owner, whose inherited fortune is now worth about $83 billion (£59 billion), in the list of world's richest women.
Her soon-to-be ex-husband Gates, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975, is currently ranked as the world's fourth richest man.
Bill and Melinda announced their divorce on Twitter, saying "we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple".
They added: "After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage."
The couple met when Melinda started working for Microsoft in 1987. They share three children – Jennifer, Rory and Phoebe.
After her parents announced they were divorcing, Jennifer wrote on Instagram: "It's been a challenging stretch of time for our whole family.
"I'm still learning how to best support my own process and emotions as well as family members at this time, and I am grateful for the space to do so.
"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."
The Gates's split comes two years after the world's richest man, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, split from his wife MacKenzie Scott.
Their 2019 divorce turned MacKenzie into the world's fourth-richest woman at the time with a $38 billion (£27 billion) fortune.
- Jeff Bezos
- Bill Gates
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