Veteran rocker Rod Stewart is making his five-year-old split from model wife Rachel Hunter official - by formally divorcing her.

The MAGGIE MAY singer, 59, was heartbroken when Rachel, 34, left him in 1999, but he has since found love with photographer Penny Lancaster, 33.

And although the former couple have always dismissed the necessity of obtaining a divorce, they have decided to press ahead with the proceedings - after Rachel promised not to try and relieve her ex of half his $117 million (GBP65 million) fortune.

Rod and Rachel have remained on very good terms since they separated, for the sake of their children RENEE, 12 and Liam, ten.

According to insiders, the New Zealand-born beauty and new love Sean Avery have spent the weekend (10-11JUL04) looking over the court papers.

A source says, "Hunter and Avery spent the weekend holed up at the mansion of her divorce lawyer MICHAEL HELLER."

12/07/2004 01:48