LONDON British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson and her multi-millionaire art collector husband Charles Saatchi moved one step closer to legally ending their marriage on Wednesday.
Just over a month after photographs appeared in newspapers showing Saatchi with his hands around Lawson's throat, a British judge issued a "decree nisi", which signals court approval of the application for divorce.
The couple will now have to wait six weeks before they can be granted a "decree absolute", which will formally terminate their 10-year marriage.
Neither attended the 60-second hearing at London's High Court.
The photos also showed Lawson, hugely popular in Britain for her television cooking shows, in tears after the incident on the terrace of one of London's most fashionable restaurants.
Saatchi, a former advertising tycoon, was given a police caution for assault, though he tried to play down the incident as a "playful tiff".
Lawson, 53, the daughter of former British finance minister Nigel Lawson, said nothing publicly after the row, but groups campaigning against domestic abuse and violence against women complained over the lack of action taken against the 70-year-old Saatchi.
A statement from Lawson's publicist earlier this month said that "neither party will be making any financial claims against the other".
Lawyer Fiona Shackleton, who represented Paul McCartney during his 2008 divorce from Heather Mills, was working for Lawson to bring the matter to a "swift and amicable" conclusion, it said.
"Both parties would appreciate privacy for themselves and their children at this difficult time," the statement said.
Lawson, nicknamed the "domestic goddess" after one of her cookery books, married Saatchi in 2003 after her first husband, journalist John Diamond, died of throat cancer. She has two teenage children from her first marriage.
Saatchi ran the world's largest advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi with his brother in the 1980s.
(Reporting By Mark Anderson, editing by Paul Casciato)