Cheryl Fernandez-Versini
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini is secretly dating One Direction singer Liam Payne, The Sun claimsBERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini is allegedly dating One Direction singer Liam Payne. The X Factor judge's relationship with the 22-year-old British boy band member apparently began in December, amid claims she is seeking a divorce from Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini.

The former Girls Aloud member married French businessman in a secret wedding in the Caribbean on 7 July 2014. The couple tied the knot following a whirlwind three-month relationship.

According to a report in The Sun, Payne told friends he is "madly in love" with the 32-year-old Crazy, Stupid Love singer. A source is reported to have said: "This is the real deal. Cheryl and Liam are in a relationship. It was unexpected but they've both made each other incredibly happy."

Payne first met Cheryl when he was auditioning for the ITV talent show. Rumours that the pair are romantically involved, started after the History singer reportedly got a rose tattoo on his hand, similar to the rose tattoo on Cheryl's bottom.

The insider told the publication: "Cheryl has obviously known Liam for many years. They've always got on well because they are both northern and share many of the same interests. But there was never anything romantic between them in the past."

"Their relationship developed very quickly in December after the X Factor final where One Direction gave their final performance before starting their hiatus," the source continued.

Meanwhile, Cheryl arrived at the Brit Awards 2016, without her wedding ring, apparently confirming her split with the entrepreneur.

The insider reportedly said: "Cheryl and JB's marriage was over by the time he celebrated his 35th birthday without her at the end of August. It was obvious she had a very difficult few months and was deeply unhappy for some time."

"But it's not like she's coming straight out of her marriage and into another relationship. She had a number of months where she was officially married but it was actually already over with JB for a number of months by that point. Cheryl is like a different person. She's carefree and happy again. There's a lot less stress in her life," the source said.

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A photo posted by Liam Payne (@fakeliampayne) on