Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux announce separation

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux announced their separation on Thursday.

The couple said in a statement released through her publicist that the decision to split "was mutual and lovingly made at the end of last year."

Aniston and Theroux were engaged in August of 2012 and married in August of 2015. They have no children.

The couple's statement said they would have handled their separation privately, but they wanted to counter tabloid speculation and "convey the truth directly".

They say they intend to maintain love and respect for each other.

The couple walk in The West Village surrounded by paparazzi on their way back to her apartment in New York, NY on September 16, 2011. Credit: PA

The statement read:

"In an effort to reduce any further speculation, we have decided to announce our separation.

"This decision was mutual and lovingly made at the end of last year.

"We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple, but look forward to continuing our cherished friendship.

"Normally we would do this privately, but given that the gossip industry cannot resist an opportunity to speculate and invent, we wanted to convey the truth directly.

"Whatever else is printed about us that is not directly from us, is someone else's fictional narrative. Above all, we are determined to maintain the deep respect and love that we have for one another."