Behind his sweet smile, American Idol front-runner David Archuleta suffers a painful secret — his parents’ marriage has been so shaky they filed for divorce, the NATIONAL ENQUIRER has learned exclusively.

But David’s amazing talent as a performer (and cash prize of $100,000!) saved his parent’s marriage and kept he and his four siblings together.

His parents, James Jeffrey Archuleta and Lupe Marie Archuleta, filed to dissolve their marriage in 2002.

But they stopped the divorce proceedings when David — just 12 at the time — won the $100,000 first place prize on Star Search, saving the family.

According to court papers obtained by The ENQUIRER, David’s father filed for divorce in July 2002, citing irreconcilable differences.

A year earlier, Jeffrey Archuleta’s business, Arch Consulting Group, had several tax liens placed on it. The business was listed as being worth “approximately zero” in the divorce documents.

David’s parents were granted a decree of divorce on January 23, 2003, but the judge never signed the final paperwork.

Terry Spencer, the attorney who handled the Archuleta divorce, told The ENQUIRER that the divorce was not finalized because neither Jeff nor Lupe attended the Divorce Education Class required under Utah law.

“It was David’s winning the $100,000 in the Junior Singer category in the 2003 Star Search competition that kept his parents from making their divorce official,” said a pal of the family.

Full details are in the new issue of The ENQUIRER.

See the divorce papers:
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