Melinda Gates had begun meeting with divorce lawyers by at least 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing sources and documents.

The couple announced their split last week after 27 years, saying in a statement together that the decision came after “a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship.”

Melinda Gates, 56, had been in contact with lawyers from different firms dating back to 2019, according to the new report.

Unnamed people who spoke with The Wall Street Journal contended that Bill Gates’ work with the late Jeffrey Epstein, a multimillionaire and convicted sex offender, was an issue between the technology tycoon, 65, and his wife.

The statement released last Monday by Bill and Melinda Gates did not go into specifics about their split.


“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,” a portion of the statement says.

“We continue to share a belief in that mission, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”

Bill and Melinda Gates are parents to two daughters — 25-year-old Jennifer and 18-year-old Phoebe — and a son, 21-year-old Rory.