AceShowbiz - Robert De Niro has broken his silence about his marriage breakdown, confessing his separation from Grace Hightower has been a "difficult" process.
The couple hit headlines last week, ends November 23, when reports suggested the pair had been living apart after 21 years as husband and wife.
The "Raging Bull" star has now confirmed the split and asked for privacy as he and Grace, who share 20-year-old son Elliot and six-year-old daughter Helen, work out the details of their impending divorce and how they plan to continue co-parenting their children.
"Grace and I have two beautiful children together," the 75-year-old actor shares in a statement to Us Weekly.
"We are entering a period of transition in our relationship, which is a difficult but constructive process," De Niro adds. "I honor Grace as a wonderful mother and ask for privacy and respect from all as we proceed to develop our roles as partners in parenting."
De Niro first met the philanthropist back in 1987, while she was working at famed London restaurant Mr. Chow, and they wed in 1997.
However, their romance hasn't been without its lows - in 1999, the acting legend filed for divorce, sparking a custody dispute over their son. They soon reconciled, and in November, 2004, the couple renewed its vows in front of guests including Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, and Ben Stiller.
In addition to his two kids with Grace, De Niro is also father to daughter Drena, 47, and 42-year-old Raphael from his previous marriage to Diahnne Abbott, and twin sons Julian and Aaron, 23, with ex Toukie Smith.