The couple, parents to 3-year-old twins, split after nearly nine years together

By Marisa Laudadio
Updated April 15, 2010 01:25 AM
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Jill Johnson/JPI

Melissa and Tammy Etheridge have ended their nearly nine-year relationship.

“Melissa and Tammy Etheridge are saddened to announce that they are now separated,” Melissa’s rep tells PEOPLE exclusively.

The former couple add in a statement: “We ask for consideration and respect for our family as we go through this difficult period.”

Melissa, 48, and Tammy (formerly Tammy Lynn Michaels) exchanged vows in Malibu in September 2003.

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Tammy, 35, gave birth to their children – son Miller and daughter Johnnie Rose – in 2006, after Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004.

Etheridge is also the mother of two children, Bailey, 13, and Beckett, 11, with former partner Julie Cypher.