TV COOK Nigella Lawson and millionaire art collector Charles Saatchi have moved a step closer to ending their marriage.
In a hearing at London’s High Court which lasted less than a minute, District Judge Anne Aitken granted the couple a decree nisi – the first legal step to ending their ten-year marriage.
Mr Saatchi, 70, and Ms Lawson, 53, now have to wait for a decree absolute, which is usually issued six weeks and a day later, ending their marriage.
Neither the couple nor their legal representatives attended the hearing.
Court paperwork shows that Nigella Lucy Lawson applied to divorce Charles Saatchi on the grounds of his continuing unreasonable behaviour.
The marriage was said to have irretrievably broken down and an “order for financial relief” has been agreed between the petitioner and respondent.
On the petition before court, Ms Lawson had ticked “Yes” to the question: “Is the respondent’s behaviour as set out in your petition continuing?”
Ms Lawson also confirmed in the document that she and Mr Saatchi were living apart. The popular cook and broadcaster signed the document on 9 July.
In Court 9 of the High Court’s building at First Avenue House, 13 reporters listened along with the district judge as an assistant read out Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi’s names – along with those of 14 other couples seeking a divorce.
The judge asked: “Does any party or person wish to show cause against decrees being made or in the question of costs?”
A decree nisi is a statement saying that the court sees no reason why a divorce cannot be granted.
It is thought the divorce will be rubber-stamped some time in September.
Pictures were published last month showing Mr Saatchi holding his wife by the throat as they had an argument on the terrace of a restaurant.
He dismissed the incident as nothing more than “a playful tiff”, but then accepted a police caution for assault.
Mr Saatchi said that he had done so to stop the incident “hanging over” them. Ms Lawson, who has subsequently been pictured without her wedding ring, has described him as ‘’the exploder’’ in the past, due to his temper.
Mr Saatchi later said that the pictures gave a “wholly different and incorrect implication”.
However, he added: “I feel that I have clearly been a disappointment to Nigella during the last year or so, and I am disappointed that she was advised to make no public comment to explain that I abhor violence of any kind against women, and have never abused her physically in any way.”
The couple confirmed they would not make any financial claims against the other, ruling out prolonged legal arguments.
That lack of financial complicaton is one reason why their so-called “quickie divorce” is progressing swiftly.
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