After twenty years of marriage, raising four kids, two prison sentences and one imminent deportation, Teresa and Joe Giudice have separated.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey couple “have been separated,” an insider source told PEOPLE.
“They discussed their future when Teresa and the girls went to Italy in early November and they agreed that each had to move on. They are doing so amicably and very slowly,” the source said. “Joe has been out on a few dates, Teresa has not. She has been too busy with the girls, with work obligations and taking care of her father. She is happy for Joe . They have been very friendly with one another and are very supportive of each other’s happiness. They still love one another, but as Teresa told Andy Cohen on the WWHL special, they are separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Neither is interested in a long distance relationship.”
The source also said there are no plans for marital dissolution at this time, and added that “both of them are focused” on their four daughters that they share together: 18-year-old Gia, 15-year-old Gabriella, 14-year-old Milania, and 10-year-old Audriana.
According to the insider, their couple’s children will be visiting Joe for Christmas in Italy, while Teresa will stay at home with her father in New Jersey.
Teresa and Joe were childhood sweethearts and got married in October 1999. As of now, the couple has been living separately for close to four years. In March 2016, Joe began his 41-month prison sentence for mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud; while Teresa served slightly over 11 months in prison for the same charges, and was subsequently released on December 23, 2015. Last year, Joe finished his sentence but was held in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Clinton County Correctional Center in Pennsylvania while he fought the judge’s deportation order. (While Joe has lived in the United States since he was a child, he never actually got his American citizenship.)
After seven grueling months, he flew to Italy in October to await his third and final deportation appeal.
Before the Giudice family trip to Italy, Joe appeared in his first television interview since he went to prison in March 2016, and chatted via satellite with Teresa in a Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen special in October.
During the interview, the couple told the host that they’re at a crossroads with their marriage and would not be making any decisions about their relationship until they spent more time together in person.
“I’m waiting until I get there to see if I feel differently,” Teresa said at the time. “I just feel like when you live apart. … He says the same thing, when he sees me, he may not want this either. We’ll know when we see each other.”
Although the couple stated that they still loved each other, Teresa reiterated that she would have no choice to separate from Joe if he is indeed deported.
“I want to wake up with someone every single day,” Teresa said, elaborating that her kids understood her dilemma. “I think they get it. I don’t think they want to see it happen, obviously, but I think they understand. Because the way I explained it to them, how are we going to live apart? I don’t think he would be faithful. I think he would have someone there and have me here. I just don’t want to live that life.”