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Speed of Lawson-Saatchi divorce ‘unusual’

High profile divorces are giving ordinary couples an unrealistic idea of what is involved in ending a marriage, legal experts have warned.

The Law Society spoke out after TV cook Nigella Lawson and her advertising tycoon husband Charles Saatchi were granted a decree nisi on 31 July, just weeks after a Sunday newspaper published pictures of Mr Saatchi with his hand around his wife’s throat as they sat outside a London restaurant in June.

Once a decree nisi is granted, there is minimum wait of six weeks before a marriage can be formally ended with a decree absolute.

The Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, said that the “highly unusual” speed of the divorce was due to neither party making any financial claims against the other. It added that Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi were each “wealthy enough to proceed with an undefended divorce, which doesn’t involve the division of mutual assets accumulated from the beginning of the relationship.”

Its president Nicholas Fluck said: “Even the most straightforward divorce cases, where a couple have neither children nor significant assets and where they both agree not to contest, can develop into complicated and stressful legal actions.

‘What is generally much more complex is sorting out the practical issues such as where each person will live, who gets what, and arrangements for any children.”

The society also said cuts in legal aid were leading more divorcing couples to represent themselves or use divorce websites but warned that cut-price options could prove a false economy and create additional stress.