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Nigella Lawson granted decree nisi

TV chef Nigella Lawson has been granted a decree nisi, the penultimate stage in her speedy divorce from advertising impresario Charles Saatchi.

In a High Court hearing reported to have lasted just one minute, District Judge Anne Aitken issued the decree, effectively ending the couple’s ten-year marriage. The chef cited “unreasonable behaviour” as the reason for the split.

A decree nisi offers divorcing couples one final chance to change their minds. One it has been issued, they are then required to wait a minimum of six weeks and one day before a decree absolute is issued and the marriage is officially dissolved.

The couple’s marriage appeared to collapse with remarkable speed in June when photographs showing Saatchi, 70, with his hands around his wife’s throat outside a London restaurant appeared in the media. He accepted a police caution and shortly afterwards announced that their marriage was over.

The couple then surprised commentators expecting an acrimonious courtroom clash by announcing plans for a swift and uncontested split.

Saatchi reportedly did not hire a lawyer – instead choosing to negotiate a settlement directly with his now ex-wife’s legal team, The Independent reports.

On the face of it, this seems like an admirably simple and straightforward solution to a painful process. We cannot know what conversations took place behind closed doors, but clearly a decision was made to prioritise speed over financial wranglings. And the pair can, of course, afford to take such an approach. Both are independently wealthy so the imbalance of power found in so many big-money splits is not present. But I would advise anyone considering a taking a similar approach to think very carefully before opting for a fast track settlement. You may feel you can barely stand to be in the same room as your one-time partner any more, but you are facing decisions which could affect the rest of your life. In a few years time, you may have cause to regret that rushed settlement.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Luke says:

    It seems there was a pre-nuptial agreement and fighting that for Nigella Lawson was going to be messy, “messy” is the last thing she needs as she tries to build her image in the USA and although Saatchi might not be a pleasant man he is no fool – I suspect that the pre-nup would have been tough to beat.
    There seems to be no upside to her in fighting it and I figure that’s why it didn’t happen.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Hi Luke
      I think both of them are very wealthy in their own right and both can easily meet their own reasonable needs for life out of their own assets. Whatever they may have acquired during their marriage (and I should imagine its a lot of money that went to them individually) they aren’t going to argue about “marital acquest” because they can both manage absolutely fine without a fight and good luck to them for doing the decent thing. I actually think its a real pity they have divorced. They seemed like a very pleasant couple. What a pity that their private lives had to be so nastily blasted open. Photographs don’t always tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

  2. Luke says:

    Apparently he’s worth £130m, she’s worth about £20m (made during the marriage), I suspect that if she could do it quietly and there was no pre-nup she would go for a big slice of his assets on the advice of her lawyer.

    I don’t think that is right, but I think it is what would have happened – and that isn’t because I have anything against Nigella Lawson – actually I’ve always really liked her, it just seems very rare that the less well-off spouse doesn’t go for the other spouse’s money when divorce occurs.

    I agree with you that it is sad that their marriage was destroyed and we don’t know what really went on, but her silence crucified him (apparently on advice from her USA image consultants) and so whether he is as bad as the photos appear or not his position within the marriage became ridiculous.

  3. Lawson Law says:

    thanks for the nice sharing

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