The 59-year-old rocker still shares a close bond with his former spouse - with whom he has 16-year-old daughter Ava - who he married in Paris on December 17, 1994, and although their divorce was finalised in 2007 he insists he'll always have a special place in his heart for her.
He said: ''Time does heal old wounds. I mean, I still love Heather and I know she loves me. She's the mother of my child, man. What can you say?''
Richie insists Ava is his ''favourite girl'' and gushed about how proud he is of what the teen star has achieved.
He told PEOPLE magazine: ''She and I are close and have a candid relationship.
''Boundaries are set.
''That doesn't budge. She is an amazing kid and dedicated to school. She's acting. The first audition she [went] out for was Judd Apatow's 'This is 40' - and she got it. She's been doing Disney stuff. I'm really proud of her - she's just a joy. My favourite girl - her and my mum, I always say.''
Earlier this year he revealed it was essential for him and Heather to keep relations cordial for the sake of Ava.
He explained: ''If you don't get along you are messing the kid up. That's what happens.
''So you have to put that before whatever s**t is going on. Communication has got to come first. There's a cooling off period obviously, as you know - it takes time. It was almost 10 years ago though. So we're fine.
''Thanksgiving or Christmas, we all spend it together.''
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.