By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO (Reuters) - Central Florida Congressman Alan Grayson's wife filed for divorce in Orlando on Monday in a petition calling the marriage "irretrievably broken."
The Democratic lawmaker's office confirmed Tuesday that Grayson and his wife Lolita were separated and experiencing "a very difficult transition for everyone involved." The couple has been married for 23 years and has five children aged 8-18.
"Congressman Grayson's priority remains caring for his five children and protecting their well-being, particularly during this difficult period. To that end, we ask that you respect the privacy of all members of the Grayson family as they work through this challenging time, and we thank you for your support," Grayson spokeswoman Lauren Doney said in a statement.
Grayson's marital problems come on top of recent financial misfortune. Court records filed in December showed he was a victim of an investment fraud that cost him $18 million.
Grayson, 55, is up for re-election in 2014 and has drawn three potential Republican challengers.
Known during his first term in Congress from 2009-2011 as a fire-breathing Democrat, he famously summed up the Republican plan for healthcare as "if you do get sick, die quickly."
Soundly defeated for re-election in the 2010 midterm elections by Daniel Webster during a Republican sweep of national and local offices, Grayson came back in 2012 to win a newly drawn congressional district seat awarded to central Florida following reapportionment.
During his current term, Grayson has promoted an image of himself working across the aisle with libertarian-leaning Republicans to pass a series of bipartisan amendments.
Before his election, Grayson worked as a lawyer specializing in government contracts and whistleblower lawsuits involving Iraq war contractors.
(Editing by David Adams and Jonathan Oatis)