After six children and 13 years together, the relationship between celebrity chef Shannon Bennett and former Neighbours star Madeleine West is apparently over.
The split, which sources are describing as bitter, is rumoured to have taken place about a month ago, comes less than a year after the Melbourne-based couple splashed out $19 million for a lavish Toorak mansion.
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"This is the last thing Shannon needs," a friend of the 42-year-old MasterChef guest judge tells Woman's Day, adding that Shannon has taken refuge in Byron Bay.
"He's already in hot water over allegations of unpaid bills and underpaid staff, and facing an investigation by the Fair Work Commission. The last thing he needs right now is for things with Madeleine to get ugly," the friend says.
"She studied law before her big break on Neighbours, so she's no blonde bimbo."
The 38-year-old actress, who shot to fame as Dee in Neighbours, most recently played TV host Erica in The Wrong Girl, following roles in Underbelly, Winners & Losers and House Husbands.
Madeleine has also become something of a parenting commentator, with the precision parenting involved in coping with their brood of six children - Phoenix, Hendrix, Xascha, Xanthe, Xahlia and Margaux, who are aged between three and 12 - resulting in a bestselling book Six Under Eight. Shannon, meanwhile, is best known in culinary circles as head chef of Melbourne's award-winning Vue de Monde.
"Nobody knows what went wrong but whatever happened it's sad. They have such a beautiful family," the friend says.
Speaking to Kidspot, Madeleine said, "The greatest joy in having a big family is that there's no chance for any of them to get a sense of entitlement, or that the world resolves around them. They understand that they are part of a village, a community and have a responsibility to their brothers and sisters. I hope it will help make them responsible citizens of the world."