TV chef Nigella Lawson is seriously contemplating a divorce from husband Charles Saatchi (70) after efforts to control his anger have failed.
She is believed to be seeking legal advice after pictures showed her husband grabbing her by the throat outside Scott's, a London restaurant.
Nigella (53) has confided in friends that she is close to ending her marriage.
The mum-of-two has been photographed without her wedding band as she struggles to come to terms with the attention after the incident.
Sources say a separation agreement is expected to be drawn up shortly and a divorce could be finalised in as little as two years.
"It appears as if neither party is interested in attending counselling to save the marriage," friends said. "It has been a rocky patch for the couple over the past two years and Nigella is confused about where it could go from here."
Although the 'domestic goddess' says she is still in love with her husband, she fears he can't change his ways.
Nigella spent a second week away from their £14m (€16.5m) home. She also moved her children Cosima and Bruno, from her first marriage to journalist John Diamond, out of the house.
Friends say Nigella has been eager for Saatchi to undergo anger management therapy to regulate his moods.
Meanwhile, two of the UK's most high-profile divorce lawyers were recently spotted dining in Scott's.
Raymond Tooth – nicknamed 'Jaws' – and Fiona Shackleton met for a two-hour power lunch on Friday.
Mr Tooth acted for Saatchi's second wife, Kay, during their divorce in 2001 as well as Roman Abramovich's former wife.
Fiona Shackleton – the 'Steel Magnolia' – is Nigella's cousin. She represented Prince Charles when he split from Princess Diana and also acted for Paul McCartney in his divorce from Heather Mills.
Mr Saatchi divorced his first wife, Doris, in 1990 after 17 years of marriage; his second wife, Kay, divorced him 12 years ago for unreasonable behaviour after 11 years.
Although Mr Saatchi first attempted to dismiss the incident with his wife Nigella as a 'a playful tiff', it sparked such an outcry that he voluntarily went to the police. Mr Saatchi accepted a police caution for assault following the publication of the pictures.
The episode was even raised in the House of Lords last Friday, as Nigella's father Nigel Lawson looked on.
One peer asked a minister: "Do you think that the leniency shown to Mr Saatchi when he half-strangled his wife set the wrong tone?"
Friends say Nigella is craving privacy and removing her wedding ring was merely a sign of her confusion about how best to proceed.