Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi moved a step closer to ending their marriage today.
Court paperwork shows that Nigella Lawson, 53, applied to divorce Charles Saatchi, 70, on the grounds of his “continuing unreasonable behavior”.
During 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 10-year marriage.
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, Nigella Lawson had ticked “Yes” to the question: “Is the respondent’s behavior as set out in your petition continuing?”
Nigella Lawson also confirmed in the document that they were living apart.
The document was signed by the popular cook and broadcaster on July 9.
Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi now have to wait for a decree absolute, which is usually issued six weeks and a day later, ending their marriage.
Neither the couple or their legal representatives attended the hearing.
In Court 9, Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi’s names were read out with 14 other divorcing couples.
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 the court sees no reason why a divorce cannot be granted.
It is thought the divorce will be rubber-stamped some time in September.
Nigella Lawson flew into Heathrow Airport last night ahead of the hearing.
Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson, who are said to be worth an estimated £150 million ($235 million) and shared a £12 million ($19 million) home in Chelsea, are believed to have agreed never to publicly disclose the terms of the divorce or financial settlements.
They are also understood to have signed a pre-nuptial agreement when they wed in 2003.
Nigella Lawson was the applicant in the case.
It is understood Charles Saatchi dispensed with lawyers to deal directly with Nigella Lawson’s high profile lawyer Fiona Shackleton in an attempt to keep his multimillion pound art collection intact.
The couple’s marriage ended after Charles Saatchi was pictured choking his wife, who has made her fortune as TV’s Domestic Goddess, at their favorite London haunt, Scott’s restaurant, last month.
Nigella Lawson was then left reeling by Charles Saatchi’s “cruelty” after he announced in The Mail on Sunday that he would be seeking a divorce.
In a final, crushing act of emotional control, Charles Saatchi released an extraordinary statement to say that the marriage was over – without giving her any warning of his intentions.
Nigella Lawson moved out of their home and has rented an apartment with her son Bruno.
She is soon planning to head to Los Angeles where she is filming the new season of her ABC show The Taste.