John and Elizabeth Edwards, pictured in 2007, have been married for 32 years
US politician John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, have separated, days after he admitted fathering an illegitimate child.
Mrs Edwards, who has inoperable cancer, had until now stood by her husband of three decades, who ran for the 2008 Democratic White House nomination.
He admitted the affair with film-maker Rielle Hunter in 2008 but had denied her child was his, until last week.
Mr Edwards called the split with his wife "an extraordinarily sad moment".
"I love my children more than anything and still care deeply about Elizabeth," he said in a statement to the Associated Press (AP) news agency.
JOHN EDWARDS'S AFFAIR
December 2006: Declares bid for 2008 Democratic presidential ticket
Mid-2007: Daughter conceived with Rielle Hunter
January 2008: Pulls out of race for Democratic ticket
August 2008: Admits affair; denies paternity
January 2010: Admits paternity
Mrs Edwards, 60, has not made a public comment on the separation.
Her sister, Nancy Anania, told AP: "She's doing as well as you could expect.
"I'm really proud of her that, somehow, she's got strength that you rarely see in a person."
Publisher Random House, which released Mrs Edwards's book, Resilience, last year, said in a statement she was "moving on with her life and wants to put this difficult chapter behind her".
When Mr Edwards, 56, admitted the affair with Ms Hunter in August 2008, after a press report, he said it had ended in 2006 and denied paternity.
Rielle Hunter's daughter is about to celebrate her second birthday
When he finally came clean in early 2010, the Democrats' former rising star told US media he had been wrong to insist Frances Quinn Hunter, now nearly two years old, was not his daughter.
Mrs Edwards, who has breast cancer, said then that the whole family was relieved he had owned up.
The child was born on 27 February, 2008, suggesting she was conceived in mid-2007, several months after Ms Hunter stopped being employed by the Edwards campaign, and in the early stages of the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The story was further complicated by the fact a former aide to Mr Edwards, Andrew Young, had himself at one time claimed paternity.
Mr Young is due to release a tell-all book detailing Mr Edwards's affair, called The Politician, in the next few days.
Mr Edwards, who also ran for vice-president alongside Senator John Kerry in 2004 and once served as a senator for North Carolina, stepped out of the race for the Democratic ticket in January 2008 after failing to win a single primary.
The nomination was finally won by Barack Obama, who went on to be elected US president.
The Edwards's eldest son, Wade, was killed in a car crash at the age of 16. They have three other children.