James Hetfield has split from his wife.

The Metallica frontman sought legal separation from Francesca Hetfield

who he wedded in 1997 following five years of dating - prior this year however the documenting was never revealed at that point and the news essentially "remained unnoticed", TMZ reports.

The previous couple have kids Cali, 24, Castor, 22, and Marcella, 20, together and are said to in any case be in touch for their brood.

The 59-yeaar-old vocalist has recently credited Francesca, 52, for assisting him with conquering his resentment and liquor issues.

He recently said: "Dread was a major inspiration in that for me.

Losing my family, that was what terrified me so much, that was the base I hit, that my family will disappear in view of my ways of behaving that I brought back from the street.

"She kicked my ass right out of the house and that scared the s*** out of me. She said,

‘Hey, you’re not just going to the therapist now, and talking about this, you’ve got to go somewhere and sort this s*** out,’ so that’s what I did.”