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Alexa Ray Joel Sticks by Her Dad in Divorce

06/18/2009 at 12:40 PM EDT

Alexa Ray Joel Sticks by Her Dad in Divorce
Alexa Ray Joel and dad Billy Joel
Kevin Mazur/WireImage
Billy Joel's split from wife Katie came as no surprise to Alexa Ray Joel, the music man's 23-year-old daughter with Christie Brinkley.

"I have a pretty good woman's intuition, so I could tell," Alexa told PEOPLE at the sixth annual Wayuu Taya Foundation Gala at the Stephan Weiss Studio in New York City Wednesday night. "I know my dad very well."

The couple announced their separation in a statement June 17 after nearly five years of marriage. Joel says she first heard the news from her dad.

"He was the first person to talk to me," says Alexa. "Of course, being who he is, you can't just trust everybody. I like knowing that my father can come to me."

Despite her parents' troubled marriage record, Alexa says has hardly sworn off the idea of one day getting hitched herself – although she dispels rumors of a romance with John Mayer. "I would love to get married. Having seen what I've seen, sure I have a different perspective on marriage, but I'm a true romantic, and I will be having a wedding at one point."

Meanwhile, Joel says she stands behind her dad: "He's a strong man. He'll get through this, and I'm going to help him."

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