For every child, the divorce of their parents is one of the hardest things to deal with. And it does not help when the child in question becomes one of the reasons their parents end up disputing about. Helen De Niro, daughter of actor Robert De Niro and his second wife Grace Hightower, is going through a similar situation. In November 2018, it was reported that Robert De Niro had separated from his wife of 20 years. They are also going against each other regarding the custody of the little girl. So, what do we know about the child who has become a central part of this messy divorce? Let us find out more about Helen De Niro.
Helen’s Birth and Childhood
The advancement in medical science has helped many couples to have their own baby despite the complications sported due to their age or their own health issues. In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of cases where a child is born through a non-conventional method. In December 2011, news emerged that Hollywood actor Robert De Niro had become a father at the age of 68. His wife Grace Hightower was 56 years old at that time. Due to their age, the couple had probably opted to have another child through surrogacy.
Helen Grace De Niro was born in October 2011 through a surrogate mother. At birth, she weighed around 7 pounds and 2 ounces. Details surrounding the surrogate mother are kept under wraps. Helen’s mother Grace stepped out with her in the stroller for the first time in New York in December.
As of recently, Helen seems to be attending a school in New York City where she is often pictured alongside one of her parents.
Relationship Between Her Parents
Her father actor Robert De Niro and mother Grace Hightower met each other in 1996, the same year De Niro had separated from his longtime girlfriend and baby mama, Toukie Smith. After dating for about a year, the couple quickly got married in 1997. A year later they welcomed their first baby and Helen’s older brother Elliot De Niro.
Soon, their marriage started attracting trouble and the new parents were suddenly seeking a divorce just after a year of the birth of their son. The relationship between Helen’s parents was far from being a perfect one but both of them worked really hard to save their marriage. They never finalized their divorce. In 2004, both of them renewed their wedding vows and became even more private to protect their marriage.
Divorce of Parents
After renewing their vows, Helen’s parents’ relationship had grown even stronger. Following her birth in 2011, her parents dedicated themselves to raising her and her older brother, Elliot who is autistic in a loving and caring home. But gradually, her parents’ relationship started to take a toll and in 2018, they separated after 20 years of marriage.
Following the separation from his wife, De Niro praised his ex-wife as being a wonderful wife. He said:
“Grace and I have two beautiful children together. We are entering a period of transition in our relationship which is a difficult but constructive process. I honor Grace as a wonderful mother and ask for privacy and respect from all as we proceed to develop our roles as partners in parenting.”
This high profile divorce of soon started to get even messier after her mother, Grace demanded more for settlements despite the existence of a prenup. The prenup states that Grace would be entitled to their $6 million dollar apartment, payment of cash of $500,000, and $1 million annual alimony payout. Apart from these, there is also a waging custody battle regarding Helen as Robert is demanding joint custody of her.
Helen De Niro has altogether 5 older siblings from her father’s side.
From her father’s first marriage with Diahnne Abbott, she has a half brother Raphael and a sister Drena who was the daughter of Robert’s first wife from a previous relationship and was later adopted by him. Her brother Raphael works in New York real estate. He also has three children of his own. Her adopted sister is working as an actor, model, and fashion consultant. She has a son of her own.
Helen also has another older brother, Elliot with whom she shares the same parents. Elliot is autistic and has developed an interest in playing tennis.
Stepping out with her Father
Amidst the ongoing divorce settlement and custody battle, the one person who is most likely to be affected is the couple’s 9-year daughter Helen. In April 2019, Helen was seen stepping out with her father to grab an ice cream.
She was wearing her school uniform and sporting a medal around her neck. The father-daughter was also walking their dogs. It is nice to see that despite the issues with Grace, Robert still considers spending time with his daughter a major priority.