Before Vanessa Trump filed for divorce from Donald Trump Jr. she was the “Wonder Woman” that sister-in-law, Ivanka, looked up to.
Vanessa filed for divorce on Thursday after more than 12 years of marriage to Trump Jr. The couple shares five children together.
“After 12 years of marriage, we have decided to go our separate ways. We will always have tremendous respect for each other and our families,” Trump Jr. and Vanessa said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “We have five beautiful children together and they remain our top priority. We ask for your privacy during this time.”
Ivanka, 36, spoke to PEOPLE exclusively in July 2016 about Vanessa’s ability to multitask with so many children.
“My sister-in-law Vanessa is a machine,” Ivanka told PEOPLE. “She can take all of [my children] and not even notice. She has five children and she’s Wonder Woman to me.”
“She can be taking care of them all simultaneously, each pulling on her and have direct meaningful connections with each of them at one time. It’s remarkable,” Ivanka added.
“She really is such an amazing mother and really an inspiration to me and as her well with the in-laws, I’m very close with Jared’s brother and two sisters and they’re all on speed dial with advice for parenthood.”
Vanessa’s filing for divorce came after a day of speculation that the couple was splitting, according to an earlier Page Six report on Wednesday. Page Six was the first to report that the couple had filed for divorce.
PEOPLE confirmed that Vanessa filed the documents late Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court, according to court records.
News of the split comes a month after the former model, 40, was hospitalized after the family received a suspicious letter containing a white, powdery substance that police later found to be nontoxic.
Trump Jr., 40, later confirmed that his wife was “unharmed.”
“Thankful that Vanessa & my children are safe and unharmed after the incredibly scary situation that occurred this morning,” President Trump’s oldest son tweeted. “Truly disgusting that certain individuals choose to express their opposing views with such disturbing behavior.”
The two were introduced by Trump Jr.’s father, Donald Trump at a fashion show in 2003.
“I’m at this fashion show,” Vanessa told The New York Times in 2006. “Donald Trump comes up to me with his son: ‘Hi, I’m Donald Trump. I wanted to introduce you to my son Donald Trump Jr.’ ”
The pair were introduced again six weeks later by a mutual friend at a birthday party at a New York restaurant, where they ended up hitting it off. “We talked for an hour,” Vanessa recalled. Although the two initially didn’t remember each other from their first meeting, Vanessa says she recalled blurting at one point, “Wait, you’re the one with the retarded dad!”
The New York Post broke the news of the split on Wednesday, reporting that the couple has been leading separate lives.
The Daily Mail reported last month that the couple didn’t spend Valentine’s Day together, opting instead to treat their children to separate dinners. Vanessa took her two oldest sons, Donald III, 9, and Tristan, 6, to a “low-key sushi restaurant” in upper Manhattan, while her husband took oldest daughter Kai, 10, on a date. Their youngest children, Chloe, 3, and Spencer, 5, apparently stayed at home for the holiday.
The family has been living on Manhattan’s Upper East Side while Trump Jr. took over managing the Trump Organization with younger brother Eric after their father was elected president. On the weekends, Trump Jr. and his family often retreated to their home in upstate Roscoe, New York, known as Trout Town, USA, where locals say he’s known to indulge in two of his favorite hobbies: hunting and fly-fishing.
“He’s good people, he’s family,” the manager of the Riverside Café, a Roscoe restaurant, told PEOPLE last summer. “He comes in wearing his Columbia shirt and a cap and settles in with his kids and wife and they all enjoy a meal together.”
- with reporting by LIZ McNEIL