Pat and Gina NeelyMemphis, TN- Fans of chefs Pat and Gina Neely were shocked last Friday when the popular Food Network stars announced they would be divorcing. Although couples split all the time what is most surprising about the Neely’s announcement is the fact they have been married for 20 years. The announcement left us wondering what, after so many years of marriage, could drive a couple apart.

The Neely’s announced their split via local Memphis TV station WMC Action News 5 releasing this statement:

“Today we announce that we are ending our marriage of 20 years for irreconcilable differences. This was a tough decision, but we believe it is the best decision for us.”

The couple who began hosting “Down Home with the Neelys” for Food Network in 2008 and it appears as though the divorce means they will go their separate ways. In their statement, the couple said they would continue to “focus on our individual brands and we are optimistic about our prospects.”

The couple own four properties together and if they are unable to come to an agreement on how to settle those assets, the court will intercede. They don’t have any children together so they’ll avoid an acrimonious custody battle.

A friend of the couple told WMC the couple still loved each but they drifted apart. This is the experience of many couples, especially for those who have children, and can lead a couple to divorce in mid-life. So what drives a couple to split after so many years together?

The Empty Nest

We’ve all heard of empty-nest syndrome, the idea that once children have been raised and have left the home, parents no longer have the a connection to one another. With their focus now taken of rearing their children they may be wondering: What do we do now?

Once the children leave, a couple can look at it as a time to embark on new experiences. They now have the opportunity to do things they once never had the time or money to do like travel. But some couples look to one another and realize that without children they no longer have mutual interests

The Mid-life Crisis

It’s common for people to look at their lives and question whether they are happy, and what they can do to change that. Sometimes that means leaving a marriage that isn’t completely satisfying. Life is short after all and staying in unhappy marriage doesn’t seem worth it anymore. A person may realize that they haven’t reached their goals and can’t see themselves being able to reach those goals if they stay in their marriage.

Even in mid-life, a divorce can be difficult. A couple may not have the issue of child custody to contend with, but they will still benefit from retaining a divorce attorney. After a long marriage there are a host of financial concerns to deal with. How to divide property, debts and retirement account plus the issue of spousal support are common issues couples who divorce on later in life.

Financial and other mistakes can impact a person for years to come so the advice of divorce attorney is critical for any couple but especially for a couple divorcing later in life.