Cheryl Cole divorces Ashley, and keeps the dogs

Cheryl Cole

The couple are granted a 'quickie divorce' and will split their fortunes down the middle

BY Jonathan Harwood LAST UPDATED AT 13:18 ON Fri 3 Sep 2010

Girls Aloud singer X Factor judge Cheryl Cole has divorced her errant footballer husband Ashley Cole four years after their lavish wedding, following the very public expose of his infidelities earlier this year.

The pair separated in February after a string of salacious newspaper reports about the Chelsea player. The 'quickie divorce' was granted at the High Court by District Judge Christopher Simmonds on the grounds of Ashley Cole's admitted unreasonable behaviour. It took just 80 seconds for the decree nisi to be granted.

The couple, who married in July 2006, had not signed a pre-nuptial agreement, but are reported to be splitting their £20m fortune down the middle, although Cheryl will get custody of the couple's two boxer dogs, Buster and Coco.

They will sell their Surrey mansion, currently occupied by Cheryl and estimated to be worth £6m, and split the proceeds. The north London apartment where they lived before they married will also be put on the market.

Both Cheryl and Ashley are thought to be worth around £10m each, although Cheryl's star is on the rise thanks to her solo pop career and lucrative TV deals, which could see her try to break America.

On the other hand, Ashley, at 29, is entering the autumn of his football career, and although he earns as much as £6m a year, his image has suffered as a result of the breakdown of the marriage.

Cheryl, who is expected to adopt her maiden name Tweedy once the divorce is finalised, is said to be relieved that she has obtained a "divorce with dignity". According to the Mirror she said: "Thank God the nightmare is over".

The Sun reports that the decree nisi would have been granted sooner had it not been for a bout of malaria that the pop star picked up on a trip to Africa with the man many believe to be her new boyfriend, dancer Derek Hough. She had applied for a divorce in May.

Cheryl began dating Ashley after he pestered her Girls Aloud band-mate Kimberley Walsh for her phone number in 2004. He proposed less than a year later while they were holidaying in Dubai and their lavish wedding took place in July 2006.

Allegations of infidelity first surfaced in 2008 when a hairdresser claimed she slept with Ashley. There were more revelations earlier this year and the couple split in February. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.