Grazia (UK) - - 10 Hot Stories -

LAST WEEK, AF­TER months of pub­lic mud-sling­ing, Mel B sen­sa­tion­ally set­tled the big­gest is­sues in her dam­ag­ing di­vorce bat­tle with Stephen Be­la­fonte.

The pair are said to have reached an agree­ment on the ‘ma­jor is­sues of their di­vorce’, with Mel ap­par­ently with­draw­ing her re­strain­ing order against her es­tranged husband – a con­victed crim­i­nal who pre­vi­ously worked as her man­ager. The order was granted to her ear­lier this year fol­low­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Grazia un­der­stands Mel worked closely with La-based fam­ily lawyer Sean Collinson, who acted as chief ne­go­tia­tor in the set­tle­ment. It came af­ter the for­mer Spice Girl made an ‘eleventh hour’ change to her le­gal team just days be­fore the case was set to be heard – to the shock of many in the Hol­ly­wood le­gal pro­fes­sion.

Con­cerned friends and fam­ily had ap­par­ently ad­vised the singer to en­gage a team of le­gal me­di­a­tors to pull the plug on the case be­fore Be­la­fonte’s li­brary of porno­graphic sex tapes was shown in court ( he won the right to sub­mit the videos as ev­i­dence in Septem­ber). The set­tle­ment also fol­lowed a warn­ing from Judge Mark Juhas last week that the singer could be jailed for con­tempt. The court case was de­layed yet again due to Mel be­ing ab­sent from court (she was film­ing in Aus­tralia at the time). ‘Every­one is at a loss as to why Mel has set­tled like this,’ said an in­sider. ‘Her rep­u­ta­tion has been tar­nished ir­re­versibly by their di­vorce bat­tle and sto­ries of do­mes­tic abuse. Those close to her are won­der­ing why she didn’t just set­tle at the start and avoid the ex­plo­sive de­tails of her pri­vate life be­com­ing pub­lic knowl­edge. ‘She has al­lowed all of this to come out and, worst of all, Stephen will still re­ceive a huge amount of money from her.’ In the past seven months, Mel has claimed she suf­fered do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and al­leged Stephen blew her £38m for­tune (he said she spent it). He ac­cused her of drug and al­co­hol abuse and of tak­ing part in three­somes with their ex-nanny, Lor­raine Gilles. ‘ This di­vorce has been spec­tac­u­larly dam­ag­ing for Mel,’ said a source. ‘So far, her le­gal costs have been run­ning up to £1m and she was al­ready pay­ing Stephen £35,000 a month and she is fac­ing a huge bill for go­ing to court. Mel will be count­ing the cost of this case for years to come. In Amer­ica, it’s never re­ally about jus­tice, it’s al­ways just about money. It’s an ex­pen­sive les­son to learn.’

Mel and Stephen (right) ar­rive at one of their court hear­ings

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