Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi's divorce to be pronounced this month
Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi’s “amicable” divorce will be approved by a judge by the end of the month, they disclosed today.
The celebrity couple, who are jointly worth about £150 million, are looking to end their marriage of nearly ten years as quickly as possible and are not seeking any money from each other.
Their decree nisi will be pronounced on July 31, meaning that their divorce could be finalised by mid-September, less than three months after the publication of pictures showing Mr Saatchi with his hand around his wife’s throat.
Mr Saatchi, 70, is thought to have a personal fortune of around £130 million thanks to his successful advertising career and astute art collecting, while his wife is believed to be worth £20 million from her work as a television cook and writer.
Miss Lawson, 53, has instructed her cousin Baroness Shackleton, the leading divorce solicitor who represented Sir Paul McCartney when he separated from Heather Mills, but her husband is not using any lawyers.
In a sign of unity despite their irreconcilable marital problems, the couple today issued their first joint statement since the furore over the photographs taken of them arguing outside Scott’s restaurant in Mayfair last month.
They said: “We can confirm that Fiona Shackleton is acting for Nigella Lawson to ensure a swift and amicable resolution.
“A divorce will proceed on the undefended basis, the decree nisi is to be pronounced on 31 July, and neither party will be making any financial claims against the other.
"Contrary to some reports, Charles Saatchi has not consulted lawyers and has represented himself throughout.”
It is not clear whether this means that Mr Saatchi will be able to keep intact his unparalleled collection of contemporary art, which he valued at £200 million in 2003.
Miss Lawson’s spokesman would not comment further on the statement and Mr Saatchi was not available to respond.
The couple married in a low-key ceremony at their home on September 3 2003, and had been looking forward to their tenth wedding anniversary later this year before the pictures were printed in a Sunday newspaper on June 16.
Miss Lawson, known as the “domestic goddess” after the title of one of her cookbooks, moved out of their £14 million marital home in Chelsea, West London, on the same day and was seen without her wedding ring.
The photographs provoked a storm of criticism from campaigners against domestic violence.
Mr Saatchi initially described the incident as a "playful tiff", claiming that he had held Miss Lawson's neck repeatedly to "emphasise my point" while the couple discussed their children.
However, he later voluntarily went to Charing Cross police station and accepted a caution for assault, claiming that he did not want to have the matter "hanging over all of us for months".
Miss Lawson kept quiet about the incident, and only learned that Mr Saatchi was divorcing her when he issued a statement to the press just over a week ago.
The art collector said he had taken the "heartbreaking" decision to end their marriage partly because she had failed to back him publicly over the row.
"I feel 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,” he said at the time.
The couple will have to wait for at least six weeks after the decree nisi is pronounced before their marriage can be legally ended with a decree absolute.