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Newlyweds No Longer

After months of rumors, denials, and salacious magazine covers, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey are officially kaput, just in time for Thanksgiving.

The couple jointly announced their separation Wednesday, confirmed their publicists Meredith O' Sullivan and Rob Shuter.

"After three years of marriage, and careful thought and consideration, we have decided to part ways," Simpson and Lachey said in an official statement.

"This is the mutual decision of two people with an enormous amount of respect and admiration for each other. We hope that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."

Calls to their publicists seeking further comment were not immediately returned early Thursday.

Tabloid magazines began reporting trouble brewing in the couple's marriage following Simpson's role in 2005's "The Dukes of Hazzard."

U.S. Weekly first reported their split in its Oct. 17 issue.

The couple denied the report. In the December-January issue of Teen People, which went on newsstands earlier this month, Simpson again denied rumors that the marriage was over.

"Hopefully mine and Nick's story will continue for the rest of our lives, like what we vowed, through sickness and in health," she said.

The photogenic couple wed in October 2002 and went on to star in their own reality show, "Newlyweds," on MTV. The show, featuring Simpson's unintentional humor, including confusing Chicken of the Sea tuna with poultry, made them A-list celebrities.

Their 2004 ABC television special, "The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour," earned high ratings.

Lachey gained fame as a member of the boy band 98 Degrees and has done some acting himself, appearing in episodes of "Charmed" on the WB. Simpson's 2004 album, "In This Skin," went platinum, and she released a Christmas album last year titled, "ReJoyce The Christmas Album."

Earlier this year, the couple toured with the USO to entertain troops in the Persian Gulf. They also sung "America the Beautiful" before the National Football League's nine regular-season opening games as part of a tribute by the league to mark the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

People magazine included Lachey and Simpson in its list of "The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World 2004."

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