RALEIGH, N.C.—Elizabeth Edwards is leaving her husband after a tumultuous three years in which the couple's marital troubles became tabloid fodder.
Andrea Purse, a friend of Elizabeth Edwards, told The Associated Press Wednesday that the couple has separated. She released a statement on behalf of the 60-year-old mother of four that said, "Elizabeth is moving on with her life and wants to put this difficult chapter behind her."
North Carolina law requires couples to be separated for a year before divorcing.
The announcement come as details emerge from a tell-all book by longtime Edwards aide Andrew Young, who initially claimed that he fathered a child with John Edwards' mistress.
John Edwards publicly declared last week that he was the father of the child with Rielle Hunter, who worked as a videographer before his second presidential campaign in 2008.
Young's book details how Edwards went to great lengths to hide the affair. In an excerpt from an ABC News interview, Young said that Edwards asked him to find a doctor who might fake a paternity test and asked him to steal a diaper from the baby, now almost 2, to determine whether it was really his.
Young claimed paternity in the weeks leading up to the crucial presidential primaries. He then went into hiding. Edwards admitted the affair in August 2008 but again denied fathering a child with Hunter.
Elizabeth Edwards has an incurable form of cancer that returned in 2007 as the couple was campaigning for the presidency. She said in an interview with The Associated Press last week that her health got worse for a period but has been recently improving.
John Edwards, a former North Carolina senator and 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate, has largely stayed secluded since first admitting the affair in August 2008. He has acknowledged a federal investigation into his campaign finances.
Edwards spent part of last week in Haiti helping with earthquake relief efforts.