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Anthony Collins Solicitors LLPis one of the leading firms in family law in the West Midlands’, according to one client, and ‘has the experience and capacity to handle the most complex of cases’. Elizabeth Wyatt and Jas Tamber, who ‘brings a pragmatic solution to the case’ and specialises in child care work, jointly lead the team, which was joined by senior associate Helen Mottram from a niche family law practice. The practice handles complicated childcare and matrimonial matters, including financial disputes, wealth protection and cohabitation issues. Senior associate Elisabeth Howe is an experienced mediator and leads on complicated financial issues following the breakdown of relationships. Fellow senior associate Maria Ramon represents clients in high-value litigation with a specialty in child work. The firm also has niche expertise in sensitive issues involving female genital mutilation, forced marriages, and surrogacy and fertility. Senior associate Julie Bevan recently retired.

Lodders Solicitors LLP merged with Birmingham-based Divorce and Family Law Practice in July 2017, bringing into the fold a family practice that is well respected in the West Midlands marketfor its handling of financial remedy and divorce proceedings on behalf of high-net-worth individuals. Beverley Morris and Joan Price jointly head the team, which includes associate solicitor Caroline Dresden, assistant solicitor Amy Parker, and Vivienne Middleton, who is noted for her focus on private child care work. Morris is noted for her hands-on approach to advocacy, and Price sits as a deputy district judge.

According to one client, Mills & Reeve LLPsimply has the whole package’. The ‘simply superbMarc Saunderson heads the practice and is ‘a force to be reckoned with’ in financial matters. He is supported by senior associate Hayley McCormack, who has a strong track record in leave-to-remove cases, often involving an international element. Principal associate Katherine Kennedy led on a highly contentious financial remedy case involving proceedings regarding hostility under the Children Act, and assisted Saunderson in wealth protection work. In an illustration of the practice’s ability to handle cross-border work, senior associate Aasha Choudhary acted alongside Saunderson in a high-value divorce involving foreign assets and jurisdictional issues.

The overall level of service at Shakespeare Martineau LLPis exceptional’; according to one client, ‘there is an embarrassment of riches as far as talent goes’. The ‘fiercely intelligent and pragmatic’ Zahra Pabani leads the Birmingham practice alongside private capital group head Mary Kaye; they are supported by associate Fiona Farrell, who ‘is equally skilled with money and children’ and handles complicated divorce proceedings involving business or other significant financial assets. Charlotte Clewes was recently promoted to associate and is especially strong in trust law.

Clients consider Benussi & Co Limited to be ‘one of the standout family law firms in Birmingham’ and single out its ‘personal and attentive client care’. Legal director and ‘polished performerHelen Jane Arnold is ‘sensible, experienced and pragmatic’ and works alongside Denise McKenna, who specialises in cross-border litigation. The firm represents high-net-worth individuals with regards to financial remedy proceedings and private law child cases. Diane Benussi is also recommended.

Blair Allison is particularly well regarded for its work for children’s guardians and individuals needing representation in public law proceedings. Practice head and ‘excellent solicitorGrant Bird is praised for his ‘legal knowledge and common-sense approach’. He recently advised on three high-profile child death cases. Other key mandates for the team included representing a father in care proceedings concerning allegations of terrorism, acting for several children in a murder case filed against their mother, and handling a complex cross-border financial remedy matter. The team recruited associate Cathy Price, who has strong experience in financial and child law related to the breakdown of relations, and ‘extremely good advocate’ and assistant solicitor Matt Cannan from Price Mistry. Associates Angela Houston and Baldish Khatkar are also highly recommended.

Irwin Mitchell’s family law practice in Birmingham is led by Clare Wiseman (whose ‘personal charm and work ethic permeates the whole department’) and ‘is large enough that it can call on genuine specialists in distinct areas, but not so large that it is disparate’. Wiseman acts for-high-net worth individuals and is supported by senior associate and Sarah Balfour, who specialises in complex cases involving wealth protection both at home and overseas. Nicola Walker is advising a client in a high-profile appeal alleging the High Court judge prevented her from pursuing a claim for sharing with regards to pre-nuptial wealth. Newly promoted associate Mark Hands attracts praise for his ‘reliably thorough preparation’.

Baches Solicitors LLP is ‘a very strong and well-prepared firm able to deal with the full range of issues that may arise in family law’. Managing partner Jo Johnson is singled out for her ‘experience and ability to engage with adults and children’, as is solicitor Rebecca Littleford, who specialises in care and private law cases. The matrimonial team is headed by the ‘highly competent, tenacious and approachable’ Lindsey Newell, who has particular expertise in high-value financial matters involving international assets. Jill Darbyshire leads on childcare work. Other key names include ‘level-headed’ consultant Lucie Taylor, who represents children, parents and other relatives in public and private law proceedings.

According to one client, Clarke Willmott LLP is ‘one of the best law firms in Birmingham for private law children cases’ and its lawyers ‘know exactly what they are doing’. Rayner Grice leads the team and is ‘calm and sympathetic, but very straight-talking’; she works closely with the firm’s other teams, including the serious injury practice, to advise on the various issues that may arise from relationship breakdowns. Legal executive Caroline Young ‘always has the client’s best interest at heart’; she assists Grice in matrimonial matters involving physical or sexual abuse, wealth protection, and child welfare.

Duncan Lewis Solicitors provides legal aid advice on domestic and cross-border child care matters, and also handles private law with a particular niche in forced marriage protection orders, domestic violence and child abduction cases. Shazia Saliheen recently represented a father whose children had been illegally taken to Somalia by their mother and sought to obtain an inherent jurisdiction and female genital mutilation (FGM) protection order, while Richard Gray’s work involved complex private and public law proceedings involving elements of domestic abuse and substance addiction. Solicitor Rupinder Jagdev took the lead on a case involving serious non-accidental injuries to a child placed in the care of her aunt who had no immigration status in the UK. Solicitor Adam Bloodworth and Krina Parmar are also key contacts.

Greens Solicitors Ltd recruited new practice head Georgina Burrows and solicitor Susanne Leach from Benussi & Co Limited, adding a private matrimonial law practice to the firm’s traditional legal aid work. Recent work includes representing a vulnerable child alleged to be the victim of abuse by nine perpetrators but who wished not to pursue criminal charges, and advising on divorce proceedings for a couple which had previously divorced and re-married before the financial settlement of the first divorce had been completed, a matter which involved overseas property assets and domestic pension elements. The team’s childcare workload included acting for clients with regards to Hague Convention proceedings and the novel point of surrogacy law.

The family team at Harrison Clark Rickerbys is jointly led by Andy Caldicott in Hereford and Kevin Harris-James in Birmingham; Harris-James has an extensive track record in landmark family cases and is noted for his expertise in Hague Convention matters. Also based in Birmingham, office head Lucy Barr recently acted for a client in separation proceedings with his girlfriend. Other key work included representing the husband in financial remedy proceedings in the Central Family Court, which involved overseas assets and substantial pension, business and property assets and which was further complicated by a disagreement on the length of the marriage.

Shoosmiths LLP’s Neil Hobden is praised for his ‘exceptional knowledge, proactive nature and exceptional service’. He heads the firm’s national family practice from Birmingham, which has particular expertise handling financial matters regarding the breakdown of relationships, often involving a cross-border element. Associate and accredited mediator Sushma Kotecha heads the firm’s national mediation team from the Nottingham office and has a notable focus on servicing Asian clients. Other recent cases involve international child relocation and wealth protection work. Associates Adam Maguire and Sylvie Sarabia are also recommended.

At Sydney Mitchell LLP, Karen Moores leads the firm’s family team alongside Mauro Vinti, who works out of the Shirley office. The partners are supported by legal executive Jayne Gregg, who is ‘very positive and firm with her advice’. Recently, the team represented clients in the Birmingham family court in connection with financial remedy and child arrangement proceedings. Solicitor Teresa Mannion joined the firm in Shirley from Alsters Kelley LLP, while solicitor Kelly Pougher joined Thursfields Solicitors.

Very industrious, energetic and competent’ consultant Fiona O’Sullivan heads Weightmans LLP’s family practice in Birmingham, which ‘cannot be faulted for the level of service received’. O’Sullivan provides clients with ‘invaluable advice’ on the financial aspects of relationship breakdowns, including business assets and pensions issues. Associate Tania Derrett-Smith recently led on domestic and cross-border divorce and financial remedy proceedings for several clients. The team’s caseload also includes private law child work, guiding clients through pre-nuptial agreements and the variation and capitalisation of periodic payments.

Philip Rea and Karen Brennan jointly lead the Birmingham branch of Cartwright King’s national family law practice and specialise in financial remedy cases, private law child work in connection with divorces, and wealth protection. Associate Carol Clelland has expertise in private law child work and represents children either directly or through their guardian; she acted in care proceedings involving a mother known to social services through association with risky elements and a history of domestic violence. Other recent mandates include representing a high-profile father in an application for a child arrangements order, and handling a high volume of contested financial remedy cases.

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Legal Developments in West Midlands for Family: Birmingham

  • Parking rights: here to stay? Consent might be the surprising answer 

    In the field of the acquisition of easements by prescription, little has caused more consternation over the last decade or so than the question of whether a right to park cars can be acquired by twenty years user as of right. The types of property capable of being adversely affected range from individual residential units all the way up to major development sites. The establishment of such a right can have a devastating impact on the value of the burdened land.

    - Falcon Chambers

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