Chris Rock is splitting from wife Malaak Compton-Rock, the couple confirmed Sunday. Compton-Rock issued a statement to People, saying the marriage is ending after nearly two decades.

"After much contemplation and 19 years of marriage, Chris and I have decided to go our separate ways," the statement read. "Being fortunate enough to lead a life of service by working with those most vulnerable makes me well aware of life's blessings, even when faced with difficulties."

Compton-Rock said she recognizes the split is significant but her children will "remain at the center of my life and their well-being is my top priority," adding she hopes the media will respect their privacy.

Robert S. Cohen, Rock's attorney, also confirmed the split, People said.

"Chris Rock has filed for divorce from his wife, Malaak," Cohen said in a statement. "This is a personal matter and Chris requests privacy as he and Malaak work through this process and focus on their family.”

E! Online reported the couple had been having problems for years and had been living separate lives but had refrained from divorcing sooner because of their children.

Rock has said his family inspires his work.

"In my normal life, I'm just with my kids most of the time," he told People. "I'm a writer at heart. Writing is a nerd job. There's nothing cool about writing. Hemingway, I don't care who it is."

TMZ reported the couple had divorce papers drawn in 2006 but never filed them, working out their problems. The "Top Five" star also fended off divorce speculation in 2010 in the face of rumors he had fathered an illegitimate child.

Compton-Rock founded the nonprofit organization styleWORKS, which helps women move from welfare to work. She serves as executive director.

Rock, 49, married Compton-Rock, 45, in 1996 after dating for three years. The couple have two daughters, Lola Simone, 12, and Zahra Savannah, 10. The family lives in New Jersey.