Zac Brown and Wife Shelly Separate After 12 Years of Marriage: 'This Was a Difficult Decision'

Zac and Shelly Brown share five children: son Alexander, 4, and daughters Joni, 7, Georgia, 8, Lucy, 10, and Justice, 11

Zac Brown and wife Shelly are parting ways.

In a joint statement, shared exclusively with PEOPLE, the Zac Brown Band lead singer, 40, and the Shelly Brown Jewelry designer, 34, reveal they are separating after 12 years of marriage.

“We feel blessed to be on such an incredible journey in life and sometimes the journey begins to lead in different directions. It is with deep love and respect that we announce we are separating as a couple,” said the pair, who wed in 2006.

“We have led a whirlwind life together growing into a beautiful family with five amazing children and while life will be rearranging a bit, our love and commitment to our family will always be there,” they continued. “This was a difficult decision, but we’ve done plenty of tough things together and this is our next venture — love, mutual respect, and care for each other are what we are moving forward with.”

“Family comes in all different forms,” they concluded. “We would like to ask that rather than commenting or spending any energy towards this, that you take this moment to send love to your family, in honor of ours.”

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The Browns share five children: son Alexander, 4, and daughters Joni, 7, Georgia, 8, Lucy, 10, and Justice, 11.

In August 2017, Shelly opened up about her romance with Zac in an interview with the Grand Ole Opry, as part of its “Better Half” digital series.

“A friend of his introduced us,” the Georgia State University alum said. “I was really young – I had just finished college.”

During a 2015 interview with Big Machine Label Group, Zac revealed he knew Shelly was the one when they shared their first kiss.

“We ended up New Year’s Eve playing a show,” he said. “My date had stood me up and I remember walking back to my friends with like two minutes before midnight and thinking, ‘I’m not gonna have anybody to kiss on New Year’s.’ And there she was, standing right there and I remember kissing her and then that was game over.”

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