The former One Direction star, 24, and Cheryl, 34, have held crisis talks but are ready to split, pals fear.
The success of the former One Direction singer’s solo career has meant Cheryl, is left with their 11-month-old son Bear for weeks at a time.
The unmarried couple have been battling to stay together — staging crisis talks this week about their future after Liam returned to Britain from touring.
But friends fear they may be unable to salvage it long-term and are ready to call time on their troubled relationship.
Sources claimed they would probably already have done so if it was not for their young son.
Cheryl’s 10-year age gap over Liam, 24, has also believed to have made things increasingly difficult for the pair.
Last night a source close to the couple revealed: “There’s a big age gap between them. If they didn’t have Bear then they would have most likely split up by now.
“But they love their son. And they do care for each other so it’s now a matter of seeing if there’s a final way forward to try and make it work.”
Last year, Liam, admitted Cheryl had taken on most of the childcare duties while he was working away on new music in LA.
He said: “Obviously, she supported me going off and doing my career and stuff, so she’s been amazing.
“What I’ve learnt about being a dad is how hard it is to be a mum and she hasn’t had any help from anybody and she’s done it all herself.”
Sources insist the couple, who have been together for two years, have had no major rows — and neither has had an affair.
They say the pair are determined to stay close for the sake of Bear, even celebrating Valentine’s Day together at their Surrey mansion.
Our source added: “Liam and Cheryl held crisis talks about their future this week after he made a point of spending Valentine’s Day with her.
“They haven’t split but have addressed the fact they have work to do on the relationship and both want to work things out.
“He is away a lot. She knew he would be away a lot for work but the actual reality is tough.
“She also wants to get back to work so that comes into it as well. They have a child together so have been trying to make it work for some time. There hasn’t been a big falling out or anything like that. They hope there is a way forward and that’s what they’ve been discussing.”
Cheryl will go back to work this week. She is set to open her Cheryl’s Trust Centre — which helps vulnerable young people — in Newcastle on Tuesday.
The couple may make an appearance at the Brit Awards on Wednesday, where Liam is nominated, as a public show of unity.
Liam, the most successful solo member of 1D, has been touring the world promoting his single for the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack.
But the couple reunited this week, making a special effort to spend some time at home — as well as discussing things with their own families. Our source added: “They are obviously having problems but the question now is what they decide to do about it.
“They’re currently talking to their families to seek advice about whether there’s any hope of giving things a go for a period of time.
“It’s also Bear’s first birthday next month so they have to be able to find a way to celebrate that together.”
The couple last appeared in public together at a charity event in London on November 29.
The last photo of the pair on social media was posted back in August last year. Tellingly, friends say Liam has wanted to share recent pictures of the couple online but Cheryl has been less keen.
A pal said: “For weeks Liam has wanted to put the speculation to rest with pictures of them both looking happy on social media.
“But Cheryl is very private and, even though Liam has been talking about their relationship non-stop, that’s not something she is comfortable with.”
The unlikely couple fell in love after Cheryl ended her toxic marriage to French playboy Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini at the end of 2015.
Their secret relationship stunned the showbiz world when it was first revealed by The Sun in February 2016. Within weeks of the couple getting together Liam had a tribute to Cheryl’s famous bum tattoo inked on his hand.
They actually met five years earlier when Liam auditioned for X Factor aged 17, with Cheryl on the judging panel.
Pals hoped Cheryl had finally found The One, despite the fact they never got engaged.
She had failed marriages to Frenchman Jean-Bernard and cheating former England football ace Ashley Cole.
The face of L’Oréal has reverted to her family name of Tweedy but prefers to be known simply as Cheryl. She divorced Jean-Bernard in 2016, citing his “unreasonable behaviour”. They wed in 2014, after three months together.
She spent six years with footballer Cole, four of them married, before divorcing in 2010 over his cheating. Cheryl also had relationships with US dancers Derek Hough and Tre Holloway.
Liam was also dealing with his own heartbreak before his coupling with Cheryl.
He split from Sophia Smith, his girlfriend of two years, in October 2015, just before 1D ended.
He also had relationships with dancer Danielle Peazer and X Factor winner Leona Lewis.