Liam Payne 'keeping a distance' from girlfriend Cheryl in wake of her divorce drama
Liam Payne has reportedly pulled back on his romance with Cheryl (who is officially one name these days) as she gears up for a messy divorce.
The former X Factor judge (32) has been dating the One Direction singer (22) since January, months after she split with her husband of 18 months Jean Bernard Fernandez-Versini, but their relationship has hit a wall in recent weeks.
Cheryl filed for divorce from the French restaurateur in December, claiming it had been over for months, and went public with her romance with Liam soon after. But as her ex gears up for a divorce battle, her current beau is said to have pulled back.
Cheryl and Liam had been sharing a home in LA, where they were both recording new music, in recent months, but Liam has given her some space since they returned home to London.
"Liam is clearly overwhelmed by the divorce battle and how messy it's getting. He's been distance since they got back from LA as he feels like it's best for Cheryl if he takes a step back to let her deal with what's clearly a very stressful situation," a source tells heat magazine.
"Cheryl's assured Liam that he doesn't have anything to worry about and her divorce doesn't need to come between them, but the cracks are starting to show and the age difference could soon prove to be an issue."
"Liam's never had to deal with the kind of issues Cheryl has. Cheryl already has one bitter divorce behind her and a chequered family history."
Cheryl was married to footballer Ashley Cole from 2006 to 2010 and wed Jean Bernard in Mustique after just three months of dating. Her lawyers are currently trying to "hash out" a deal with the nightclub owner to ensure a clean break between the pair.
"The divorce with JB is still stalling, so how Liam responds and behaves over the next few weeks while her lawyers try to hash out a deal with him, could be make or break for the relationship."
The Fight For This Love recently hit back at claims she cheated on her ex-husband with Liam. The Sun reports that Jean Bernard was told that Cheryl and Liam were together in October, two months before they officially split up.
However, Cheryl responded to the reports with an irate tweet, saying: "If anybody believes the s**t they're reading today you really don't know me at all".