(CNN)Robert De Niro has broken his silence about recent reports that he and his wife Grace Hightower have separated.
“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 added in the statement.
The couple met when Hightower was working as a hostess at a Mr. Chow restaurant and married in 1997.
They are the parents of two children, Elliott, 20, and Helen Grace, 6.
Hightower is a philanthropist who also has had minor acting roles in movies and on TV.
The pair have had marital issues before. De Niro filed for divorce in 1999, but the two reconciled and renewed their vows in 2004.
The actor was was previously married to Diahnne Abbott from 1976 to 1988 and they are the parents of two children, Drena, 47, and Raphael, 42.
In 1995 he welcomed twin sons, Aaron and Julian, with his girlfriend at the time, Touki Smith.