Bill and Melinda Gates - The Divorce Poster Child for ‘Amicable’ Divorce

4 May 2021

News that Bill and Melinda Gates are committed to continuing to work together despite ending their 27-years of marriage is indicative of a ‘shift’ in how people perceive divorce, according to leading Family Lawyers.

Despite the wealth amassed by the duo over the years, which makes Bill Gates one of the richest men in the world, the couple's separation appears to be progressing on an amicable basis, with a statement on social media confirming that they will continue to work with their foundation, which is dedicated to fighting poverty, disease, and inequity around the world.

The announcement comes following a recent poll carried out by national consumer law firm Simpson Millar which highlights that amongst those looking to legally separate in the coming months, three-quarters (74%) of couples want to ‘keep things civil’.

According to the survey, one in four people who have been divorced or in the process of getting a divorce said they had not been able to keep it amicable, with women (30%) and 18-24s (39%) most likely to struggle with this.

While there are a number of reasons why a divorce may get nasty, one in four (26%) said they believe using a single Solicitor – someone that represented both parties in the divorce equally – could have made the process more amicable.

Over half (54%) would have also preferred to use the same Solicitor if it had saved them money.

"In my experience most couples set out to have an ‘amicable divorce’, although not all succeed. Those that do tend to agree very early on what it is that they want to achieve once all is said and done. To co-parent successfully, to keep the cost as low as possible, to continue to run the family business together or, in the case of Bill and Melinda, to continue to run their foundation together. Keeping their ‘eyes on the prize’, so to speak, often helps couples to continue to work together to achieve the best possible outcome with the minimal amount of friction."

Lorraine Harvey Partner- Family Law

Lorraine Harvey, a Family Lawyer at Simpson Millar, also said: “In my experience most couples set out to have an ‘amicable divorce’, although not all succeed.

“That said, even with the very best will in the world many divorces – even those that start off on the right foot – still go wrong, and that’s normally in cases where couples try to muddle through proceedings themselves without proper advice and guidance.”

Lorraine explains this is normally in relation to pension pots – especially where one person has been the primary earner in a marriage - and ongoing maintenance.

She added, “Money is a hot topic in most marriages, and therefore in most divorces. Needless to say a fair divorce financial settlement will completely depend on each couples circumstances.

“What one person might think is fair, the other party might disagree with and vice versa. But when dividing matrimonial assets, it’s important to remember that what the Family Court might consider fair doesn’t always mean an equal split of 50/50.

“Most couples try to aim for an amicable divorce, but if divorce finances go to Court, the Judge will aim to divide assets so that you each person can still meet their housing and living costs, and would ideally reflect their lifestyle while they were married.

“That said, it’s also important to take into account the fact that the same matrimonial resources need to provide for two homes now rather than one.

“In most cases, getting legal advice is the best way to ensure a quick, amicable and fair solution for all.”

Simpson Millar recently announced that it is launching a new One Lawyer approach which consists of a 10-step process which is designed to aide a conflict-free separation and offers a range of solutions to fit the needs of every family. As both parties are represented by the same Lawyer, there are associated cost savings.

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