NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower attend the premiere of "The Fourth Estate" during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival at Borough of Manhattan Community College on April 28, 2018 in New York City.  (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower separate
01:14 - Source: HLN
CNN  — 

Robert De Niro has broken his silence about recent reports that he and his wife Grace Hightower have separated.

“Grace and I have two beautiful children together,” the Oscar-winning actor said Tuesday in a statement to CNN. “We are entering a period of transition in our relationship which is a difficult but constructive process.”

“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.

Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower separate

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.

CNN’s Chloe Melas contributed to this report