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Stephen Belafonte files response to Mel B divorce

by Gemma Strong

Mel B's estranged husband, Stephen Belafonte, has filed his official response to her divorce petition. The 41-year-old is seeking spousal support from the former Spice Girl and has requested that she pay all his lawyers' fees. Stephen is also seeking joint physical and legal custody of the couple's daughter together, five-year-old Madison. Mel filed for divorce from Stephen on 20 March, after nearly ten years of marriage. She listed the date of their separation as 28 December, but Stephen disputes that in his official paperwork claiming it was in fact 1 March.

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Mel B's estranged husband Stephen Belafonte has filed his response to her divorce petition

On Monday, Mel filed for a temporary restraining order against her partner, alleging a litany of abuse throughout their marriage. The singer said she had tried to leave Stephen on a number of occasions, but claimed he had threatened to destroy her career and take her children, adding: "[He] threatened me with violence and threatened to destroy my life in every possible way."

STORY: Mel B makes first public appearance since filing for divorce

In the documents, Mel claimed she was "vulnerable" when she met Stephen because she had just given birth to Angel as a single mother. She said he was initially kind to her, but stated she now knows that was a "grooming tactic", adding: "[Stephen's] kindness quickly turned sour as he became controlling, manipulative and abusive."

Mel and Stephen’s marriage came under the spotlight in late 2014 when she was hospitalised for two days and then appeared on the final of The X Factor with what appeared to be bruises. Former judge Sharon Osbourne has since recalled working with Mel on the show. "Three years ago, in the final two days of X Factor, she didn't make the first day and she was in hospital," Sharon said on Wednesday's The Talk. "And it was reported in all the papers that said 'allegedly' she's been beaten by her husband. And she came back for the final day and she had a black eye and bruising everywhere, but she made the final."