A surprise report surfaced over the weekend that the couple were on the brink of divorce and that Klum planned to file divorce papers citing irreconcilable differences, although this was later denied by a friend of the couple.

However last night, the couple released a joint statement confirming the news - saying that they had simply "grown apart."

"While we have enjoyed seven very loving, loyal and happy years of marriage, after much soul-searching we have decided to separate," the couple told People magazine.

"We have had the deepest respect for one another throughout our relationship and continue to love each other very much, but we have grown apart. This is an amicable process and protecting the well-being of our children remains our top priority, especially during this time of transition.

"We thank our family, friends, and fans for their kind words of support. And for our children's sake, we appreciate you respecting our privacy."

The couple married in 2005 and have four children, including the supermodel and Project Runway presenter's daughter, Leni, from a previous relationship.