The Gates Foundation announced Wednesday that Bill and Melinda Gates will give themselves a two-year trial to work as co-chairs of their charitable Foundation. If co-parenting their “fourth-child” does not work, Melinda French Gates will be ousted. 

The philanthropy’s contingency plan was published on their official website by Foundation CEO Mark Suzman. This move was made to ensure a smooth transition during the co-chairs' high-profile divorce and for the foundation to be “equipped to tackle the complexity of global challenges that lie ahead over the long-term,” according to the statement. 

When the couple announced their divorce in May after 27 years of marriage, they said they would continue to work together in the foundation. This changed with Wednesday’s announcement which now states they have agreed that if after two years they decide they cannot continue to work together, Melinda Gates will step down as co-chair and trustee.

If Melinda Gates resigns, she “would receive personal resources from Bill for her philanthropic work. These resources would be completely separate from the foundation’s endowment,” Suzman said. 

The Gates Foundation is one of the world's largest charitable foundations. Their 20-year involvement with the foundation has led the founders to think of it as their "fourth child," Suzman told the Wall Street Journal

Changes in leadership has been a theme for the foundation recently. One of its major investors, Warren Buffett, resigned from his role as trustee last month. He did not provide details regarding his decision. 

“My goals are 100% in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals," he told CNN.

Following this turn of events, the foundation also said in Wednesday’s announcement that it would be expanding the number of trustees. They intend to finalize decisions by the end of the year and announce the new trustees in January 2022.

In addition to these contingency plans, Bill and Melinda Gates also committed $15 billion to the foundation's endowment. This is their single largest contribution since 2000, bringing the total endowment to about $65 billion, according to Reuters

Much of the couple's wealth has been directed towards the foundation to aid range of initiatives related to global health, poverty alleviation and, now, the global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, according to its website.

As co-chairs, Bill and Melinda Gates have steered the organization's vision, with Suzman overseeing the day-to-day operations.