"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, 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," the statement said.
"We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our 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."
Bill Gates, 65, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975, is the fourth richest man in the world and has a net worth of $130.5 billion, according to Forbes. Last March, he stepped down from his role on Microsoft's board of directors to focus solely on his work with the foundation.
Bill and Melinda Gates, 56, met in 1987 while working at Microsoft. Melinda, who was 24 at the time, had just started working as a marketing manager.
Bill was 31 and the CEO. They married in 1994, and a year later, Bill became the richest man in the world.
In 2000, they started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a philanthropic organization that has spent $53.8 billion in its fight against "poverty, disease and inequity around the world, according to the foundation's website.
The charity, which is considered one of the world's largest, has invested more than $1.75 billion to fight COVID-19.
It's the second bombshell divorce among the uppermost ranks of the world's richest people in recent years, following the 2019 separation announcement of Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott.
That split, which divided the couple's stake in Amazon.com Inc., immediately made MacKenzie one of the world's richest people. In the months that followed, she became one of the most influential philanthropists in the world, giving away billions of dollars to often overlooked causes among billionaire donors.
The Gates's wealth could prove more complex to carve up than the Bezos fortune, which was largely concentrated in Amazon stock.
Bill Gates's net worth originated with Microsoft but shares of the software-maker now probably make up less than 20% of his assets. He's shifted much of his stake into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the years and his exact stake hasn't been disclosed since he left Microsoft's board last year.
When deciding whether to marry, Bill made a pro-and-con list on a whiteboard and Melinda related how she walked into his bedroom to find him tabulating various factors in the Netflix documentary series "Inside Bill's Brain."