TV CHEF Nigella Lawson and millionaire art collector Charles Saatchi moved a step closer to ending their marriage on Thursday.
In 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.
Saatchi, 70, and Lawson, 53, now have to wait for a decree absolute, which is usually issued six weeks and a day later, ending their marriage.
The hearing was barely a month after pictures showed the advertising guru and art collector's hand around his wife's neck.
The former couple are understood to have signed a pre-nuptial agreement when they wed in 2003.
Together they are estimated to be worth £150m and share an £11.8m home in Chelsea, London, but it is thought that they have agreed not to disclose publicly any financial settlement or terms of the divorce.
In a bid to hold on to his multimillion-pound art collection, it is understood Mr Saatchi has been negotiating directly with Ms Lawson's lawyer, Fiona Shackleton, who has previously acted on behalf of the Royal Family and Sir Paul McCartney.
After Mr Saatchi, 70, was photographed last month with his hand around his wife's neck at a London restaurant he initially dismissed the incident as a "playful tiff". He later said the marriage was over and he was seeking a divorce.
The TV chef quickly moved out of their home and rented an apartment with her son Bruno.
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