Pat and Gina Neely's Divorce Showcases the Difficulty of Divorcing Your Business Partner


After 20 years of marriage, barbecuing duo Pat and Gina Neely are divorcing. The couple is best known for their work on Down Home with the Neelys, which first aired on the Food Network in 2008. In recent years, they'd been focused primarily on developing their restaurant business.

The couple announced their split in a joint statement released to Memphis news channel WMC News 5 last week. They have a daughter Shelbi together and Gina has a daughter, Spenser, from a previous marriage. Pat was also married previously but had no other children.

Going forward, the Neelys report that they'll be shifting their focus to individual projects instead of continuing to build a joint brand. Over the last year, they've already been moving in this direction. Gina competed in a weight loss challenge sponsored by the George Foreman Grill brand. Pat worked on a solo project with My Family Dollar to help raise awareness of hunger in America.

As the Neelys illustrate, divorcing your business partner presents several challenging issues. Occasionally, couples will continue to work together after a divorce. However, most take an approach similar to the Neelys' and try to separate their business dealings along with their personal lives.

Even if you founded the business on your own before you were married, California's community property laws generally state that a business is considered a marital asset. If your spouse became involved in the business by contributing important ideas or assisting in day-to-day tasks, he or she will be entitled to a significant portion of the business assets. If you don't want to continue as business partners, one of you will need to buy out the other's share by sacrificing a greater portion of other marital assets such as the marital home or any investment accounts you have together. You will need to discuss this issue with your attorney as well as a skilled financial adviser.

How Can We Help?

If you are in need of legal representation during your divorce, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at Our Pasadena divorce law firm is well equipped to handle a variety of divorce-related concerns, including how to best protect your interest in a jointly owned business.