Ashley and Cheryl Cole divorce could be achieved in months

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Cheryl and Ashley Cole could be single within months and potentially before the World Cup if they decide to go ahead with a divorce, lawyers said.

The singer dumped her footballer husband yesterday following claims that the England star was unfaithful during the pair's three-and-a-half-year marriage.



X Factor judge Cheryl flew home after a spell in Los Angeles - having pointedly removed her wedding ring - while Ashley fled their mansion.



Family lawyer Julian Hawkhead said finalising the split would be straightforward in legal terms and that the pair could be single again by June.



He said: "A case where it's young people and no children and both with lots of money, it should be an easy divorce."



Lawyer and broadcaster Mark Stephens said the couple could be divorced soon after Easter if they start the ball rolling now.



"By May or June this could all be over unless one party is really wanting to take the other party to the cleaners and I can't believe they would be advised to do that in these circumstances where they are both independently wealthy."



He added: "I think they'll both go their separate ways as discreetly as possible."



For the past few days Cheryl was lying low in LA, where she has been comforted by dancer Derek Hough, 24, who appears in her latest video.



Her spokesman said: "Cheryl Cole is separating from her husband Ashley Cole. Cheryl asks the media to respect her privacy during this difficult time. We have no further comment to make."



The singer, who topped the charts with Fight For This Love, stuck by Ashley after allegations of infidelity surfaced two years ago.



But further allegations that his phone had been used to send saucy photos to a glamour model and indulge in "sex text", plus further kiss and tell stories, appear to have been too much of a strain on the relationship.



Cheryl, 26, maintained a dignified silence in recent days, letting her high-profile performance at the Brit Awards a week ago, for which she had removed her wedding band, do the talking.



She won respect for playing on despite her heartache.



Her announcement about the end of their marriage came just four hours after she touched down at Heathrow.



The heartbroken star hid behind large black sunglasses and a trilby hat and, perhaps symbolically, was dressed in black when she flew into Britain at around noon.



She arrived at her £6 million Surrey mansion in a Mercedes half an hour later.



Ashley, who has been out of action from the Chelsea team because of a broken ankle, left the home a few hours earlier.



The Sun reported that he flew to the South of France to receive specialist treatment for the injury.



Publicist Max Clifford said he believed the split might help the singer's career.



He said: "It's obviously sad, but predictable in view of the last week or two. She didn't really have any choice.



"It must have been a hard decision because clearly she loves him and, in spite of everything, that will have been a very, very painful thing.



"You naturally want to believe the best of people that you love."



He said the public nature of the revelations was "incredibly painful but also incredibly humiliating".



Ashley's injury has cast doubt on his chances of making the England squad for this summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.



He could also face disciplinary action by Chelsea following the allegations over his private life.



A spokesman for the injured player did not wish to make any comment about the separation.



A Chelsea FC spokesman said: "This is a private matter for Ashley, but the club continues to offer him and his family all the support it can in dealing with it."



Girls Aloud singer Cheryl had spoken in interviews about one day wanting to start a family with her husband.



Her career hit new heights thanks to her starring role on the judging panel for ITV1's The X Factor. Her solo pop career has also flourished in recent months with the release of her debut album 3 Words.



She is said to have told her husband the marriage was over by text message at the weekend, although her spokesman would not comment.

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