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.