RHOBH Star Erika Girardi Files for Divorce from Tom Girardi After 21 Years

The Bravo star wed the powerhouse attorney in 1999

Erika Girardi and Tom Girardi are going their separate ways.

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star filed for divorce from her husband of 21 years on Tuesday, according to documents obtained by The Blast.

"After much consideration, I have decided to end my marriage to Tom Girardi," Erika, 49, said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. "This is not a step taken lightly or easily. I have great love and respect for Tom and for our years and the lives we built together."

"It is my absolute wish to proceed through this process with respect and with the privacy that both Tom and I deserved," she added. "I request others give us that privacy as well."

Tom and Erika Girardi on RHOBH.

E! News was first to report the news of the split.

She first met Tom, now 81, while cocktail-waitressing at the Los Angeles restaurant Chasen's, where he was a regular, she told PEOPLE in 2018. After a yearlong friendship, the powerhouse attorney — famed for the landmark case that inspired the film Erin Brokovich — asked her out.

They wed in 1999, at the same restaurant where they met.

Erika Jayne, Tom Girardi
Erika Girardi and Tom Girardi. Steve Eichner/AP

“Tom did not grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth,” Erika previously told PEOPLE. “We both came up the hard way. And we appreciate growth.”

“What was really important to me was my relationship. Tom wasn’t going to change,” she added. “He was a grown man. It really was two people coming together who really enjoy each other’s company.”

RELATED VIDEO: RHOBH's Erika Girardi Shares Rare Photo of Her Police Officer Son — 'People Say We Look Alike'

Over the years, the couple has faced criticisms for their age gap, which Erika has readily dismissed.

"I've dealt with this forever: the younger woman that married the wealthier, older man," she once said on RHOBH, according to E! News. "I mean, I'm tired of having to justify my 20-year marriage. Go get a 20-year marriage, then come f---ing talk to me."

The star was previously married to Thomas Zizzo, with whom she shares 26-year-old son Tommy Zizzo.

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