‘In Touch’ has exclusively learned that Nicole Richie has taken the next step towards ending her four-year marriage to rocker Joel Madden.

A source exclusively shares with ‘In Touch,’ “Nicole recently met with one of LA’s most prominent divorce attorneys and is weighing her options.”

The source explains that months of bitter arguments over things like their busy schedules and parenting their kids — daughter Harlow, 7, and son Sparrow, 5 — have proven to be too much for Nicole and Joel.

nicole richie kids

Nicole and her kids on Halloween.

As ‘In Touch’ previously reported, the couple have been “spending more time apart because all they do is fight when they’re together.”

“The last thing she wants is a public split with the children involved, but she’s desperately unhappy,” the source shares.

RELATED: Harlow Madden and 6 Other Kids That Look JUST Like Their Famous Parents!

Nicole stepped out in LA without her wedding ring on April 24 — and again while running errands on April 26.

“It’s better for everyone right now if they just stay apart because it’s really not working anymore,” the source continues. “It’s very obvious to friends that a divorce announcement will probably be happening soon.

For all the details on Nicole and Joel’s marital issues, pick up the latest issue of ‘In Touch Weekly,’ on newsstands now!

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