Cheryl Cole and Liam Payne have officially announced their split over social media. This comes as quite a sudden decision to fans after Cole recently gave birth to their son in March last year. In their social media announcement, Cole and Payne tweeted about their break up saying, "We are sad to announce that we are going our separate ways. It's been a tough decision for us to make. We still have so much love for each other as a family. Bear is our world and we ask that you respect his privacy as we navigate our way through this together."
A source close to the couple said that their split was genial and that the split was not caused by involvement of a third party. The source described the split saying, "Cheryl and Liam worked really hard on their relationship – they had troubles earlier this year and were able to get through them. But they’re in different stages of their lives and, after a lot of careful thought, came to a decision that it’s best for everyone if they do go their separate ways. He still cares for her and she cares for him. They still have an ongoing relationship together. They have a baby together. Both Cheryl and Liam have successful careers that take a lot of time, which didn’t always make things easy. There were ups and downs for a long time."
The couple met back in 2008 on X-Factor when Payne decided to audition on the show at the age of 14 where Cheryl was a judge. She put him through to the next round, complimenting him on his charisma adding, "I think you're really cute". Although Payne didn't end up progressing past the stage of the judge's houses, he came back for a second audition in 2010 and found himself in a successful boy band now known as One Direction.
Cole divorced her then-husband, French restaurateur Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini, in 2016, and announced her relationship with Payne a few months after. There had been speculation over their relationship being on the rocks since the beginning of the year but Payne and Cole publicly displayed their solidarity at the Brit Awards. The media reported that it has been a "stunt" but Cole fought back calling the allegations "just ludicrous and a bit weird".
In March this year, photos of Payne and another woman began circulating the media but Cole insisted that the other woman was an "innocent dancer colleague of Liam's who has a fiancé". She called the images a "desperate attempt to try to cause problems between Liam and I". After the allegations of their display at the Brit Awards being a stunt, Payne admitted to ES Magazine that he and Cole were having struggles in their relationship but also said that they were working on it as a family.
Tabloids had speculated that the 10 year age gap had become problematic, with Cole being 34 and Payne being 24, as well as Payne's rising fame and whirlwind music career. Although Payne said to ES Magazine that he was lucky to be with Cole who understands the demands of being in the spotlight but then admitted that "having someone else who's so high-profile in the media pushes everything that I do to another level and I think it's weird."
Since Cole and Payne released the twin statement around their split, both have seemed to have gone quiet.