Robert De Niro and his estranged wife may have to dish about their rocky marriage on the most romantic day of the year — Valentine’s Day — as part of a child-custody agreement they reached Tuesday, a judge has ruled.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper joked as he set a Feb. 14 court date in the divorce case between De Niro and ex Grace Hightower.
“This has been a very productive day and a very good day for the court and for the parties. But most importantly for the child,” Cooper said.
“My understanding is the parties have reached an agreement as to the terms of a parenting plan for the child — in this case their daughter,” Cooper said referring to the pair’s 8-year-old Helen Grace, whom they had through a surrogate.
De Niro nodded when the judge asked him to confirm this.
While the “Raging Bull” star remained quiet in the courtroom Tuesday and the terms of the agreement were not immediately known, Cooper said that the pair will have to speak about the terms at the next court date.
Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower leave court on January 14.Stephen Yang
“We will come back that day for an allocution,” Cooper said before explaining, “I’m going to ask certain questions on the record so I can be sure that the parties knowingly and intelligently entered into the parenting plan.”
Cooper also explained that the parenting plan is what used to be called a custody agreement. “It’s the road map … since road maps are now obsolete, it’s the Google Maps by which the parties agree to raise their child,” Cooper quipped.
While they resolved the custody issue Cooper noted other parts of their divorce remain to be settled but he said, “hopefully in a number of months we can bring this matter to full conclusion and have the parties divorced.”
At a June hearing, Hightower was fighting for half of De Niro’s “$500 million” fortune while his camp said that a 2004 prenup limited her to receiving a $6 million apartment, $500,000 cash and $1 million per year in alimony.
The 76-year-old actor walked in and out of court covering his face from the media with the same New York Times he quietly read in the courtroom while their lawyers spoke privately with the judge in chambers on and off for several hours.
De Niro first filed for divorce from his philanthropist wife of over 20 years in 1999. At the time they were fighting over custody of their son Elliot, now 21.
But they patched things up and renewed their vows in 2004.
De Niro then quietly filed for divorce a second time in December 2018 under anonymous names.
De Niro’s lawyer, Caroline Krauss, said after, “It was a great day for the parties’ little girl.”
Krauss said De Niro and Hightower “worked very hard.”
Hightower’s lawyer declined to comment.
De Niro is not only duking it out in court with his soon-to-be ex wife but also with an ex employee of his company Canal Productions. He filed suit against Graham Chase Robinson in August claiming that she stole company funds.
Robinson then filed her own case against De Niro in October claiming he subjected her to unwanted touching, sexist behavior and jokes about his Viagra prescription.