At Brabners LLP, the family team advises high-net-worth individuals including business owners, sports people, lottery winners, landed estate owners and trust beneficiaries on a diverse range of matters. It is particularly active in high-value divorces and financial remedy matter, and is also sought after for children matters, particularly those where there are complicated issues such as allegations of abuse and international relocations. As 'a clear leader in the area of family law', Helen Marriott, who is a Liverpool-based wealth protection specialist, heads up the regional team, while trained collaborative practitioner Joanne Radcliff leads the Manchester practice. Another name to note is senior associate Natalie Dickson.
Family in North West
‘A brilliant team, full of bright stars. They work a case with ruthless efficiency through to the end.’
‘Joanne Radcliff is calm, assured and brilliantly efficient. Always looks for the practical, client-centred solution.’
‘Brabners has a very specialised family team, with a major focus on financial remedy work. They have a high number of high net worth cases. As the firm is a multidisciplinary firm, they are able to access a wide range of resources to ensure that they are able to meet all the needs of the clients.’
‘Helen Marriot stands out as an exceptional lawyer, with excellent client care skills. She was able to explain the process of divorce and financial remedy proceedings in a clear and comprehensible way.’
‘Brabners are a “blue chip” commercial firm with some outstanding lawyers in Family work. They are clear leaders in this area.’
‘Joanne Radcliff is excellent, fantastic with clients, and very commercial.’
‘Brabners are one of the leading family team in Manchester in our view. They clearly are knowledgeable in this area of work and we believe that they act with skill and integrity for their clients.’
‘Joanne Radcliff is approachable and has tremendous interpersonal skills with both clients and solicitors. She is pragmatic and knows when to pursue issues but does not lose the wood for the trees. Excellent.’
‘They are all enthusiastic and very able. They can deal with very complex cases.’
‘Helen Marriott is super bright and very incisive. She has great client care skills. She is unfazed by complex accountancy evidence.’
Under the joint leadership of 'great leader' Sam Hall and James Brown, Hall Brown Family Law's 'young, bright and energetic' team has an extensive track record of acting in high-value financial remedy cases, and is increasingly a go-to name in Manchester for matters involving children. Pre- and post-nuptial agreements are another key area of strength, especially for the group large client roster of high-profile sports people, who create a steady stream of work for the practice. Beth Wilkins, 'world-class family lawyer' Andrew Newbury and senior associate Laura Guillon are among the firm’s most prominent practitioners. Michael Devlin joined the firm in 2019 from Stephensons Solicitors LLP.
‘They are a brilliant team. One of, if not the best in Manchester. They are clever, hard-working and commercially savvy.’
‘Sam Hall and James Brown lead a team that picks the best lawyers in Manchester and absorb them into an already excellent team.’
‘Simply the best in the North West. The most reliable and dynamic team of family lawyers you could hope to come across.’
‘Andrew Newbury is a world-class family lawyer. What he does not know about the field of family law is not worth knowing. He also has excellent client skills.’
‘I think what made Hall Brown such a good fit for me is that they’re a boutique firm who don’t take on more cases than they can manage. I never felt side-lined and I always felt the support was there when I needed it.’
‘Andrew Newbury looked after me from beginning to end with grace and kindness. He was always pragmatic – never building up my hopes or suggesting we reach for unachievable goals. The case Andrew prepared for me was based on absolute truth – no emotional shading, no manipulation of facts. We played a very straight game which I really appreciated.’
‘The team is very responsive and always responded to my calls and emails in a timely manner that was appreciated. If one of the team was unavailable, another member was and could answer my questions and knew what was relevant to my case.’
‘Andrew Newbury is one of the brightest lawyers I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and he always sees things from a practical point of view. Sam Hall is a great leader and a perfect role model for Hall Brown’s generally young, bright and energetic team.’
‘The rise of Hall Brown is nothing short of astonishing. They now have a huge but still very close team of family specialists and have expanded out of Manchester into the national arena.’
Irwin Mitchell is instructed on a diverse range of work in the family space and specialises in sensitive, high-value work with a cross-border component. International prenuptial agreements, defamation issues, and media work to obtain High Court injunctions to prevent adverse publicity and disclosures relating to children are notable areas of strength. The team is headed up by Ros Bever, who has an enviable track record of Supreme Court successes, attracting an assortment of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients. Nathaniel Groarke, one of the only Resolution accredited international specialists in the North West region, and senior associate Hannah Saxe, an international surrogacy expert, are further names to note.
Other key lawyers:
‘Exceptional service akin to a London City law firm. Straight-talking yet empathetic with excellent advice. The go-to Manchester firm.’
‘Exceptional interpersonal abilities whilst fighting clients’ corners.’
‘It’s a well-established practice with a wide range of expertise. My circumstances were extremely complex and unusual. These were dealt with appropriately but required skill and expertise which was available in the firm.’
‘Hannah Saxe was the stand out star in the whole process. She went the extra mile time and time again. Her assertive diplomacy ensured that the other side (as it were) were held to account at all times. Her advice was accurate and realistic.’
‘The family team at Irwin Mitchell, led by the inimitable Ros Bever, is remarkably strong for a regional team. They are by a distance the strongest team that I have worked with outside of London, with strength in depth at each level, from Partner to junior associates.’
‘Ros Bever is a force of nature. Those attracted by her reputation for dealing with high profile cases will not be disappointed.’
‘The team is very much viewed as a market leader by all and rightly so. They have an in-depth knowledge of all practice areas which they cover which, in turn, not only makes life easier for Counsel when instructed but also secures great outcomes for clients.’
‘Ros Bever has a reputation as a ‘rock star’ both within the firm and amongst financial remedies practitioners nationally, if not internationally.’
Spread across its Manchester and Liverpool offices, the 'strategically astute and extremely well-resourced' family team at JMW Solicitors LLP has considerable expertise in handling intricate cross-border cases, including abduction issues. The team, jointly led in Manchester by Michael Chapman and Elspeth Kinder, has represented clients in cases before the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Liverpool team head Beverley Jones specialises in fertility work, while David Pickering is noted for his expertise in high-value complex matrimonial finance work. Katie Lowe and associate Emma Benson are other names to note.
‘Beverley Jones has her own personal practice of high-net-worth ancillary relief clients. She runs a very good team of up and coming solicitor experts. Very easy to get hold of always willing to assist to obtain the best result for both sets of clients if possible.’
‘Beverley Jones leads the Liverpool office and is excellent – particular in complex private law and difficult surrogacy cases.’
‘The excellent family law team at JMW is strategically astute and extremely well-resourced. It is able to, and does, handle with distinction high-profile, complex national litigation as well as being at the forefront of the top tier firms in the North West.’
‘Michael Chapman is calm, determined and strategically aware. He is a force to be reckoned with. Holly Tootill is tenacious and diligent, and is all over the detail of a case.’
‘I worked closely with Katie Lowe and she has been outstanding. She is very calm and capable in what can be very stressful situations.’
‘Beverley Jones specialises in a range of family matters, and stands out as an exceptional person in her sector. Specialists in substantial, high net worth and complex cases. Very active with the LGBT community, showing great sensitivity and support. Highly reliable, trustworthy and clever at what she does. Great personality.’
‘My impression of the firm is that they are extremely knowledgeable, proactive and helpful with a great service. In particular, they explain things clearly, hold the clients’ hand and support them through the whole process.’
‘Michael Chapman is always incredibly helpful, efficient and approachable, with a great understanding of family law.’
‘They are an excellent team with a huge level of experience in family matters and a very strong reputation in the Manchester market. I have recommended their services to a number of clients and colleagues.’
‘Dedicated and well versed in the world of surrogacy which is a niche area. Absolutely lovely, empathetic and understanding lawyers who really support you through the whole process and you can tell they really care about the right end result.’
‘Beverley Jones is extremely competent and practical in her approach to resolving surrogacy matters but comes with a kind heart and sensitive approach.’
‘The Liverpool team stands out head and shoulders above other firms in the City. They are involved in most of the heavyweight financial remedy work in Liverpool.’
‘When barrister Abigail Bennett recently joined the department as in-house counsel and partner, this was a coup for JMW. She is brilliant: she takes no prisoners.’
- Acting for the wife in long running high-profile financial remedy proceedings in the High Court.
- Acting for the wife in financial remedy proceedings involving several linked sets of chancery division proceedings
Maguire Family Law
Best known for its complex international work and acting for high-profile clients on financial remedy matters, boutique firm Maguire Family Law provides a full range of services to its client-base of medium-, high- and super-high-net-worth individuals. Led by practice head and founding partner James Maguire, who demonstrates 'wisdom and tactical brilliance' in his representation, the growing team specialises in complex pre-and post-nuptial agreements, domestic and international divorce proceedings, and private children matters. The 'very approachable' Henry Venables and Denise Moran are also noted for their expertise in this area.
‘I work with Henry Venables; he is brilliant. He is clever, astute, honest, dedicated and caring.’
‘All of the fee earners at the firm are approachable and friendly, yet time and time again they fight fearlessly for their clients and achieve excellent results in all kinds of family law instructions, including “big money” cases.’
‘Despite his seniority within the team, Henry Venables is very approachable and consistently gives sensible and pragmatic advice.’
‘I work with a lot of law firms and this is the team I would instruct if I needed a divorce lawyer. They are absolutely committed to getting their clients to Day 1 of their new life – with minimum aggression and point-scoring. They are superb in the way they put their clients ahead of their own billing.’
‘James Maguire is a class act. His wisdom and tactical brilliance helps to steer clients through choppy waters to peaceful futures. He is supported by a team of superb, like-minded partners (Henry Venables, Lisa Brown, and Denise Moran), and they, in turn, are supported by associates and solicitors who are all peas out of the same pod.’
‘For a small firm with local offices, Maguires have a very big presence, acting for some huge cases in the North West.’
‘James Maguire has a national reputation for excellence in his field. I can also commend Denise Moran, who is extremely efficient with great client skills.’
Utilising the full range of dispute resolution options available, the family team at Mills & Reeve LLP has considerable experience handling international and specialist pension fund issues, complex family business and trust structures, international wealth protection work, children proceedings and property disputes between unmarried couples or family members. Recently, the team, which is led by Alison Bull, has strengthened its specialism in children work, with multiple specialists in the team advising on fertility and surrogacy law. The vastly experienced Nigel Shepherd and principal associates Rose-Marie Drury and Andrew Moore are other names to note.
‘Strong team ethos and emphasis on customer care and excellent service.’
‘Alison Bull is knowledgeable, conscientious and approachable with a sensible, pragmatic approach’
‘The M&R family team are excellent and can cope with the most complex of family law matters.’
MSB Solicitors handles high-value financial remedy and children matters, and is renowned for its strength in the private and legal aid space. Divorces, financial disputes, children disputes, social services interventions, adoptions, and surrogacy issues are all key areas of strength. Known for her 'expertise and knowledge in relation to forced marriage and honour-based violence and abduction', Emma Palmer is now the overall head of the family group at the firm following Emma Carey's move to a managing partner role. Financial settlement specialist Pauline McNamara is the head of private client family.
‘Dedicated and professional, MSB always strive to ensure their clients receive a high-quality legal service. The solicitors are empathetic and make sure their clients feel supported throughout the process.’
‘Emma Palmer tackles complicated cases with international jurisdiction and forced marriage being particular interests. Emma is always thorough and conscientious in her approach.’
‘Wendy Eves always goes above and beyond. Wendy is not only a gifted lawyer, but we would say an exceptional individual who works tirelessly to advocate on behalf of these vulnerable individuals.’
‘MSB continues to strive for the best. They go above and beyond what is expected and get results.’
‘The team at MSB are experienced and extremely knowledgeable. They demonstrate a commitment to clients and have expertise in many areas.’
‘Emma Palmer’s expertise and knowledge in relation to forced marriage and honour-based violence and abduction stands out in the area.’
‘Provides timely, considered responses with clear advice and effective communication throughout court proceedings.’
- Successfully represented a mother in an appeal to overturn finding of fact in a non-accidental injury case.
- Represented two parties in one of the UK’s biggest care cases involving significant child sexual abuse.
- Represented a wife in a cross-border divorce settlement with assets in excess of £12m.
With practitioners across the firm's Manchester and Liverpool offices, the family team at Weightmans LLP enjoys a strong reputation in handling matters with an international component, with particular expertise in cohabitation issues, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and family matters arising from onshore and offshore trusts. Manchester-based Emma Collins is the firm’s national private client head, while Liverpool regional head Carole Atkinson focuses on offshore trusts and complex cases. Financial expert Fiona Davidson and associate Rachel Lim are other names to note.
‘Emma Collins is a very strong technical lawyer with a firm grasp of the law.’
‘Carole Atkinson – par excellence’
‘Fiona Davidson is a superb service provider’
While the family team at Farleys Solicitors LLP is instructed on the full gamut of family matters, it has extensive experience in public and private children matters, including complex Schedule 1 Children Act applications. With a domestic and international client base, including CEOs, business owners and sports personalities, the team is led by Antonia Love, who regularly represents high-net-worth individuals in divorce cases.
‘The Family Law team at Farley’s is strong and multi-talented; there is a specialist available for most circumstances. They have a strong relationship with their clients – client satisfaction being a priority.’
‘Both Antonia Love and Barry Bunyan have been exceptional to work with.’
Joanne Raisbeck leads the family team at Hill Dickinson LLP, which specialises in relationship breakdowns, relationship agreements, private children issues, and injunction work. It has a strong track record in acting for some of the region’s most high-profile individuals from the world of business, media and sport, and is seeing increased levels of instructions from international clients. Sarah McCarthy was promoted to senior chartered legal executive in 2019.
Other key lawyers:
McAlister Family Law
Led by founding partner Amanda McAlister, the 'commercially astute, no-nonsense' team at McAlister Family Law specialises in three distinct areas of family law: divorce and finance, private children law, and public children law. In the private space, the growing department handles divorce and finance mandates, while its public law team is split into two - one acting for children and parents, and the other for local authorities. Another name to note is Liz Cowell, who represents a number of international clients.
‘Fiona Wood was my lawyer. She has always been very reactive and helpful, very easy to communicate with and had a clear strategy to follow.’
‘The firm has a vast level of experience from the established individuals brought into the practice alongside a progressive training and staff development programme. This ensures the highest quality service to its clients.’
‘Fiona Wood’s experience gives her the status of one of the best matrimonial finance practitioners in Manchester. She has successfully dealt with cases of high value and complexity, having the knowledge and attention to detail to provide a top tier service.’
‘McAlister Family Law is a team with very expert and experienced solicitors and a number of more junior colleagues who are, as far as I can tell, well supported, well-organised, efficient and well informed.’
‘Commercially astute, no-nonsense, “ballsy” firm. Gets the high profile cases in Manchester with its fearless approach to litigation, straight-talking advice and solution-driven approach. Can draw on corporate and commercial expertise to offer the best service to all from Manchester corporate high fliers to footballers and their wives.’
‘Nicola Wilburn-Shaw is a fearless litigator who will fight for her clients. She leaves no stone unturned in her cases and achieves excellent outcomes through commercial nous and her straightforward approach.’
‘Excellent boutique specialist family law firm.’
‘Fiona Wood, Amanda McAlister and Liz Cowell are all first-rate matrimonial financial solicitors. I would not hesitate to recommend any of them to a friend getting divorced.’
‘This is a relatively small firm, but with very experienced family solicitors. When I instruct a solicitor from this firm I know I will be in safe hands.’
‘An excellent cross-section of talent across all areas of family law.’
Led by Jane Tenquist, who has a notable track record in negotiating prenuptial agreements and obtaining freezing injunctions, the family team at Myerson Solicitors LLP primarily acts for high-net-worth individuals in the Chesire and South Manchester area. Praised as 'knowledgeable, personable and accessible,' the department is also particularly active in private children and domestic abuse cases. Another name to note is senior solicitor Nichola Bright, who specialises in fertility and surrogacy issues.
‘I chose Myersons to represent me because they were highly recommended. I needed someone who was very experienced in dealing with family matters not just in the UK but also overseas. This practice is unique because they have many experienced legal teams all under one roof.’
‘Jane Tenquist is representing me from Myersons and I am of the opinion she has gone beyond my expectations in the advice and guidance she has provided for my case. The attention to detail is exceptional and I cannot fault and would gladly recommend her to anyone who was in my situation and needing expert representation.’
‘Sarah Whitelegge is very approachable, knowledgeable and straightforward in her dealings. Her lay clients have always been confident in the advice and representation they have received from her.
‘Sarah Whitelegge provides an extremely high level of service to clients, is always on top of deadlines and produces court documents of a very high standard.’
‘The team is knowledgeable, personable and accessible. Extremely important factors when going through a difficult divorce with an uncooperative spouse. The team are empathetic and take the time to understand not only the facts but also the emotional and psychological factors when negotiating with the other side to achieve the best outcome.’
‘Jane Tenquist has been excellent throughout the matter. She is proactive, keeps on top of matters and does not need to be chased. Her decisive and direct approach is commendable whilst being professional and authoritative. It is apparent that Jane has a wealth of technical expertise and her confidence is inspiring.’
‘Myersons’ Family practice, led by Jane Tenquist, have in-depth experience and flexibility in complex financial and social family law divorce. The teams provided impeccable Case Management throughout, never faltering on decisions and driving the objective progressively forward at all times.’
‘Jane Tenquist is the tenacious partner leading this team, providing diligent and effective results for clients, across the UK.’
The family team at SAS Daniels LLP acts for wealthy individuals on a national basis, with each team member skilled at handling complex finance and children matters. Proceedings involving companies, trusts, inheritances, civil partnerships, pensions, pre-marital contracts, and cohabitation and separation agreements are key areas of strength. Stockport-based Shelley Chesworth heads up the team.
‘Friendly, approachable and supportive. Very professional compared to other solicitors I have used. Really care about the clients and offered impartial advice.’
‘Shelley Chesworth is outstanding. Her work is top class and her knowledge of the law is unbelievable. Over the last two years, she has gone the extra mile for me, working weekends when needed and has always been available day and evenings for me to contact her on her mobile. Her work is outstanding.’
The family team at Slater Heelis advises clients on a range of matters, with particular expertise in high-value matrimonial finance work and disputes involving children, property and inheritance. Alternative dispute resolution is a growth area for the practice, which notably includes both mediators and collaborative lawyers. Sports and media personalities, business owners with complex company structures, CEOs and high-net-worth individuals are among its key clients. 'Brilliant legal mind' Mark Heptinstall heads up the family department, which includes the highly regarded Patricia Robinson, Charlotte Beck, and 'skilled and thoughtful' consultant Kim Aucott.
‘In my opinion, the team punch above their weight compared to larger Manchester practices. They are well regarded and rightly so. It is apparent that they provide comprehensive advice which is not only legally sound but also sensible.’
‘In my professional experience Mark Heptinstall, Patricia Robinson, Phillip Rhodes and Kim Aucott are all extremely able and well-regarded practitioners.’
‘Undertake a range of good quality of work from average professionals to HNW cases with vigour and thoroughness but also fairness and an eminently sensible approach.’
‘Kim Aucott provided exceptional advice throughout the whole process. I have nothing but praise for her and the team. Her advice was always practical and pragmatic but delivered with sensitivity and tact. I would highly recommend Slater Heelis, and Kim especially.’
‘Mark Heptinstall and his team are very proficient, skilled and professional. they know their job well. I am a happy customer.’
‘Mark Heptinstall is generally regarded as one of the best all-rounders in the North West.’
‘I have engaged with many legal practices across various specialisms through my professional career and have found Slater Heelis to be without peer in terms of their approach. Whilst respecting you as a client, you believe that they are fully in your corner.’
‘Patricia Robinson showed a huge amount of patience and compassion for my situation, never once did I feel under pressure to make a certain decision but felt fully briefed of all potential outcomes to allow me to reach my own conclusions with full support.’
‘This team simply goes from strength to strength through canny recruitment and commitment to client care. Its breadth and depth mean it can cover a wide range of family disputes and is fast becoming a force to reckon with. Plus they are so pleasant to deal with.’
‘Head of team Mark has a clear vision and good eye for an opportunity in the professional market place. Ably supported by Kim who is a skilled and thoughtful practitioner as well as being a delight to work with. The team has recently been boosted by the arrival of Charlotte Beck who is a bit of a star and the meticulous Phil Rhodes is a practitioner I would not hesitate to recommend.’
‘Very able and personable team – good, steady choice if wishing to instruct a non-city centre practice.’
‘Kim Aucott is very solid and empathetic, especially as a mediator. Good all-round skills and a wealth of experience.’
‘Mark Hepsinstall is a brilliant legal mind, but very personable. Makes client feel at ease.’
Stephensons Solicitors LLP
Stephensons Solicitors LLP has an extensive track record in representing children, parents, couples, guardians and local authorities in high-profile and complex cases. Led by the 'level-headed, knowledgeable and experienced' Victoria Gethin, the group has experience acting for clients in public and private law children proceedings, including international issues and cases involving abduction, allegations of non-accidental injury and sexual abuse, radicalisation and extremism elements, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse. Other names to note are the 'client-focused, pragmatic and solution-oriented' Amanda Rimmer and senior associate Tim Galbraith, who is a 'calm and cerebral children specialist'.
‘Every member of the team that I have dealt with shows an excellent understanding of the law, is able to work well with a range of clients and prepares their paperwork, and briefs really well delivering relevant information in a measured referenced manner.’
‘Victoria Gethin is an extremely knowledgeable and pleasant person to work with and responds promptly to all queries. Her manner with the lay client is extremely good. Her advice is measured and clearly explained.’
‘I have always found the lawyers (and admin staff) to be personable, friendly and in no way anonymous or distant as could perhaps happen in a big firm.’
‘The team are all strong, competent and empathetic. They go the extra mile for their clients.’
‘The team work together to ensure clients are properly supported throughout the whole process. They are knowledgeable and thorough in their preparation. They provide realistic advice. Stephensons are one of the top and most trusted firms in the North West. They are well respected amongst their peers.’
‘Tim Galbraith takes a forensic approach to each case that he deals with and treats it as being front and centre of his concerns. He is calm and collected in all situations engendering confidence in clients.’
‘Fantastic team that has experience in all areas of family law. Their expertise in care proceedings is highly well respected throughout the north-west region.’
‘All exceptional level of skill and experience and commitment to the children they represent. There is a supportive is collective team approach which means children always get appropriate representation.’
‘There is a large family team within a diverse legal firm, ensuring that the solicitors have access to a great breadth of knowledge.’
‘Mandy Rimmer is a fabulous lawyer, whose sensible advice and caring nature is of great benefit to her clients.’
‘The team are enthusiastic and dedicated. They know the key legal provisions and look for creative solutions to difficult problems.’
‘Victoria Gethin is a star and she has a lovely manner with clients and is a good listener and is very approachable. I have been impressed with how she deals with intractable difficult cases.’
‘A unique combination of specialist children and specialist divorce lawyers. In addition, an unrivalled depth of experience in public law work for both lay clients and local authorities.’
‘Victoria Gethin is a truly exceptional lawyer dealing with the most complex children cases. She is also a first-class head of department. Mandy Rimmer is an excellent divorce lawyer with exceptional technical and client skills. Tim Galbraith is a calm and cerebral children specialist. Jackie Price is a tigerish lawyer who gives her all on every case.’
‘The private law family team has a good presence for family law in the region with good coverage throughout the North West.’
‘Mandy Rimmer is client-focused, pragmatic and solution-oriented. She is deservedly respected in her fields.’
‘Amanda Rimmer is always willing to go above and beyond for her clients. She is very experienced and her client care is second to none.’
‘Brilliant and experienced team who offer the highest quality of representation in children cases, both private and public.’
‘Vicky Gethin is very level-headed, knowledgeable and experienced. Always ensures the client receives the highest possible level of service and cuts no corners. A highly rated practitioner in the regional area.’
Headed up by Richard Barge, Aaron & Partners LLP’s family practice primarily deals with the financial aspects of relationship breakdowns, acting for a variety of business owners, professionals, sportsmen, landowners, beneficiaries of trusts and wealthy retirees. The team specialises in drafting and advising on complex marital agreements, including pre-nuptial, post-nuptial and separation agreements. Lorraine Saunders and senior associate Simon Mawdsley are also noted for their expertise in this space.
‘Aarons have a very specialised family team. In terms of the matrimonial finance work, they have particular strength in farming cases, having a good grasp of the nature of the business and the significance of the assets to the families. In terms of children work, the team works carefully and thoughtfully to ensure that the clients achieve the best possible outcome, still being mindful of the needs of the children.’
‘The team is dedicated to clients’ interests and always possesses a strong commercial sense of realism and practicality.’
The 'responsive and proactive' family team at Clarke Willmott LLP represents high-net-worth clients in complex financial and private law children matters, providing advice on financial settlements, unmarried family disputes, and divorce and separation planning issues, particularly in relation to prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, trusts and corporate structures. Chris Longbottom, who is described as 'sensible and pragmatic', heads up the practice.
Other key lawyers:
‘There was a clear distinction between support as a professional and support as a member of your business network. But I always felt I was being treated as an individual and my personal challenges away from the divorce process were supported alongside the divorce matters which was extremely reassuring.’
‘We have worked with them on a number of ‘before the event’ documents e.g. prenuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements. They are responsive and pro-active. They are a knowledgeable and capable team with expertise with high-net-worth clients.’
‘Chris Longbottom is a partner who is well known in the Manchester legal and business market. He is a sensible and pragmatic lawyer who creates strong relationships with clients and peers.’
‘Built my case perfectly from start to finish. Counsel and judges have all commented on how thorough and beautifully it is put together. The attention to detail is second to none and they really do take the time to check on my wellbeing and how I’m feeling about ongoing matters.’
‘Chris Longbottom is an outstanding professional. Does his utmost to really get in the mind frame of his client and really does balance perfectly the sides of wanting to encourage his client but being honest about the likelihood of outcomes.’
‘Chris Longbottom is a great leader. He gives very pragmatic and sensible advice. He is assisted very well by Emily Barcilon who has one of the best knowledges of procedure in the city.’
Jointly led by Rubina Vohra and Helen Shirbon, the family department at Lancashire firm Forbes Solicitors is split into two areas of expertise - public and private law. The private law team specialises in representing private clients in high-net-worth cases relating to finance issues, divorces, children and legal aid, while the public team handles matters relating to children via guardians and Cafcass. Judith Wright is another name to note.
‘Judith Wright is approachable and sensible – if I was getting divorced I would consult her.’
‘I was very impressed with the way the team was led from the top and how the employees worked together as a real team. I dealt with a number of team members over a period of 18 months across both Forbes offices in Blackburn. They all worked with me in a professional and very sympathetic manner which meant that I felt comfortable speaking with them in difficult times but confident in their ability to fight for my legal rights.’
‘I was really impressed with Rubina and the team in connection with my divorce. They were approachable and ready to give valuable advice and listen to my suggestion. I felt that they took care of me and gave a valuable service which I would recommend to anyone in a similar situation.’
‘Communication is very good; emails and telephone calls are responded to promptly. Following hearings, detailed notes are sent. The children are treated with respect, with legal information provided to them in an age-appropriate, accessible way.’
‘Gill Carr and Helen Shirbon are both excellent advocates. They are always thoroughly prepared for hearings, meaning that they can give me and the children being represented the best advice and support possible.’
‘Head of department Rubina has excellent team and client management skills, and is highly efficient and a delight to work with.’
‘High street firm that provides good quality advice and representation at reasonable prices.’
‘Rubina Vohra is excellent. She is very good with clients and is a pleasure to work with. She has good attention to detail and achieves good results at proportionate costs.’
‘I felt absolutely at ease when talking to Rubina Vohra. Divorce is a tough experience but I felt that I was supported/guided and advised all the way. It was a remarkable service with Rubina and her team being exceptional throughout.’
‘A very caring approach. Very sensitive to my case. I suspect that each individual who attends to see Rubina and her team is dealt with in the same way. She didn’t feel like my solicitor – she was so friendly, approachable and honest. Just what I needed at that time.’
The team at Laytons LLP, which is led by Andrew Spearman after the departure of Christine Barker to Ward Hadaway, advises high-net-worth individuals on divorces, financial remedy matters, private children issues, prenuptial agreements and pre-civil partnership agreements.
Diane Cogan heads up the family team at Linder Myers, which has considerable expertise in children law, specialising primarily in public law Children Act proceedings. The department represents parents, extended family members, and children on the appointment of a litigation friend; relationship breakdown issues are another area of strength. Described as 'very caring and compassionate with clients', principal lawyer Sarah McCarthy is a name to note.
Other key lawyers:
‘Clear concise communication between team members. The team works in a cohesive manner to provide an efficient effective service.’
‘I have for a number of years worked with Sarah McCarthy at Linder Myers on aspects of family law including divorce and estate planning and found her to be excellent in all areas.’
‘Sarah McCarthy is very caring and compassionate with clients, her advice is practical and well researched. In divorce cases, she is a strong advocate of fairness but still manages to get the best settlement for her clients.’
‘My experience of Sarah McCarthy was outstanding. She always responded quickly by email or telephone, often out of normal office hours. She listened well to my needs and responded accordingly, giving professional advice without pushing me in directions I did not want to go. She kept me fully informed at every stage. I felt I was in professional, knowledgeable and supportive hands and the process was much quicker than I expected.’
‘Prompt and friendly service, supported by considered and professional behaviours and advice, were greatly appreciated by me and my family. In the past I have used other legal practices and can say that Linder Myers Solicitors are head and shoulders above in terms of overall service.’
‘Sarah McCarthy’s listening skills were commendable, as was her structured and focused approach in support of what was an extremely acrimonious divorce case. Her management and advice throughout the entire process was something that I, and my family, will always remember.’
‘The team provide a responsive and friendly service. I had total trust in the advice I was given and felt that I was dealt with professionally and empathetically at all times.’
‘Sarah McCarthy was calm and empathetic from the outset. She always responded quickly to any contact I made with the firm and kept me updated throughout the lengthy process. She was adaptable and understood my needs and challenges.’
‘Sarah McCarthy was outstanding, a personal and very professional approach with rapid turnaround on all queries and requests.’
Lorraine Harvey leads the family team at Slater and Gordon, which handles high-value financial remedy and children cases, often with an international element. Acting for a range of high net-worth individuals and their spouses, the team is also skilled in Schedule 1 cases, TOLATA matters, and the preparation of pre- and post-nuptial agreements. Principal lawyer Sarah Thompson is also a key name to note.
Other key lawyers:
‘I dealt with Sarah Thompson and her associates. My divorce was dealt with fairly and I was confident in Sarah’s judgement and expertise.’
‘My overall impression of the firm is excellent. There is a very professional atmosphere and all staff are trained very well in customer care and how to reassure clients.’
‘I had a great experience working with Sarah, from start to finish she made me feel prioritised, like she knew what she was doing, and most importantly, she made me feel heard. When I spoke with her, she sounded firm and confident, and I knew I could trust her to fight for me.’
‘Sarah Thompson and Lorraine Harvey are both excellent practitioners, with great client care skills and street wisdom.’
‘They have a national reputation for skilfully representing clients, particularly those from the public sector. The team are approachable and organised and continue to perform well in a growing market, particularly against the Manchester firms who have grown in number and specialism over recent years.’
‘Sarah Thompson has an unrivalled knowledge of public sector pensions, specifically police pension schemes. She has a fantastic manner with clients; she is confident and reassuring with excellent communication skills.’
‘The team provides an excellent service to clients, showing attention to detail and excellent judgment. It compares favourably with the top-ranked firms in Manchester when dealing with matrimonial finance cases.’
‘Lorraine Harvey is a true professional, she explained in detail the whole process and understood my personal needs taking time out of her busy day to listen. Lorraine showed empathy on numerous occasions.’
Spread across three offices in Altrincham, Manchester and Wilmslow, the team of family law specialists at Stowe Family Law LLP has particular expertise in complex financial remedy and divorce matters. As well as being adept at handling private children law disputes and domestic abuse cases, Islamic divorce law and private adoption work are also areas of growth for the practice. Helen Miller, who leads the Altrincham office, is also recommended, while Gareth Curtis leads the Manchester practice and Lesley Smythe is managing partner on the Wilmslow office.
‘The team has specialist legal knowledge in family law. They understand and find solutions to any difficult challenges by employing their individual skills and abilities. They listen and answer any queries with clarity and empathy, thereby reducing the stress and uncertainty during the divorce procedure.’
‘I have found Helen Miller to be very professional in all aspects of her work. She is diligent and thorough with a strength of will and determination. I felt total confidence in her ability to obtain a very satisfactory conclusion throughout the process of my divorce including the court hearings. Helen expresses great client care, empathy and understanding with compassion during this difficult period of my life.’
‘Helen Miller is a very capable lawyer and she offers a first-class service to clients.’
‘Lesley Smythe has embodied the values of the practice and is a credit to Stowe Family Law, supporting me and yet carefully challenging me when it’s been needed, always trying to maintain my focus on achieving a resolution to the divorce. Lesley’s strengths encompass the extensive experience of matrimonial and family law, and a wealth of qualities to compliment this.’
Susan Howarth & Company Solicitors
Led by founding partner Susan Howarth, the boutique family team at Susan Howarth & Company Solicitors acts for a range of private and public law family clients. Complex children matters, cases involving internal relocations and disputes regarding the children of same-sex couples are key areas of expertise. Another name to note is Victoria Poole, a Resolution-trained mediator who handles divorces, finance cases, domestic abuse issues and Children’s Act matters.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team at Susan Howarth & Co always passionately and professionally represent their clients’ interests whilst having a careful respect for the wider interests of the children’
‘Warm, friendly service and expert advice. They were reassuring and made me confident that I was using the correct solicitors after a trail of bad ones’
‘Very professional but also very approachable – the whole team were courteous, helpful, welcoming, approachable and very supportive‘
- Advised a father in relation to a police investigation into allegations of sexual abuse against three children by around 32 suspects, 21 of whom were identified family members. The complex case saw the firm advise the husband of one of the alleged perpetrators. No findings were ultimately made against the wife.
The 'knowledgeable yet pragmatic' Emma Gill heads up Vardags’s family team, which specialises in representing affluent clients with significant marital assets, including high-net-worth individuals, business people and international and Premier League footballers, as well as their partners. The team primarily handles high-value and complex divorce and private children matters. Other names to note include Vicki McLynn and senior associate Lucy Williams, who displays 'excellent judgement' in family matters.
‘Emma Gill is quite simply the best matrimonial lawyer in the North. She has a fierce determination and steely resolve which is a winning formula for her clients. She always finds the best angle to win her cases.’
‘Emma Gill is knowledgeable yet pragmatic. I have found her to be sensible and cooperative whilst still trying to achieve the very best for her client. She is a good negotiator and had an easy grasp of complex financial matters.’
‘Deservedly high profile matrimonial finance solicitors, with an excellent reputation.’
‘Emma Gill is a force to be reckoned with. She truly makes the weather in every case she touches, to the substantial benefit of her clients.’
‘The team has excellent leadership and all of the solicitors within the team are hard-working and well-versed in both the legal and tactical aspects of the job. It is a team with an abundance of energy and enthusiasm and they go to great lengths to provide a good service to their clients.’
‘Emma Gill has an eye for detail, experience, tactics and is easy to build rapport with. Lucy Williams is robust and displays excellent judgement.’
‘Whilst realistic advice is always given, when matters proceed to court, the team will fight tooth and nail for their client to ensure that the best possible outcome is achieved.’
‘What every client gets at Vardags is a very ‘hands-on’ service. Cases are very closely managed and they are always ahead of schedule in terms of filing documents and sending briefs on time. They can also draw on their national team for expertise.’
‘Vicki McLynn has a wealth of knowledge and background to ensure the best results for her clients, with a calm and approachable style.’
‘Vicki McLynn is a superb practitioner. Very cool headed, and with great client care skills.’
Ward Hadaway’s family team is in growth mode and focuses on traditional family matters including relationship breakdowns and financial remedy cases, with particular experience in private and public law children disputes, and safeguarding children work for the NHS and other parties. Christine Barker and a group of four other lawyers joined the firm from Laytons LLP in 2020.
Other key lawyers:
The team of family specialists at BPS Family Law LLP, headed up by the 'highly experienced' Caroline Swain, handles divorces, financial settlements and pre- and postnuptial agreements for high-net-worth individuals, dealing with trusts and overseas properties. Civil partnerships, cohabitation disputes, injunctions, and the enforcement of court orders are other areas of strength.
‘Caroline Swain is a clever lawyer and I rate her and recommend her.’
‘An excellent boutique divorce and family law practice, with a compact but highly experienced team.’
‘Caroline Swain is highly experienced, measured, streetwise and excellent at what she does.’
‘The family law team at BPS is relatively small compared to many of the other firms and its location means it has a more ‘local’ feel. This benefits clients who don’t want to travel into the centre of Manchester. Despite the size and local feel, however, it still undertakes some fairly substantial cases.’
‘Caroline Swain takes advantage of the local feel of the team/firm to offer a very ‘hands-on’ style of case management, which leaves clients feeling reassured that she is on their side.’
The key name to note in Butcher & Barlow LLP's private law family group is team head Kevan Hankinson, who deals with a variety of financial remedy and complex children matters. Legal aid and care department head Rachel Cryan is another key member of the team, which advises high-net-worth clients, negotiates settlements and conducts advocacy.
Other key lawyers:
‘This is a small family team with very thoughtful hardworking lawyers.’
‘With regard to family law, B&B are a full-service firm providing highly experienced legal advice and representation across public law, private law and financial disputes. They have a wide breadth of experience in private client work. They are responsive to the needs of clients and the needs of a case often at very short notice.’
‘Butcher and Barlow provide excellent customer service, whether that’s when you liaise with just one area of specialism or you’re working with them across multiple areas.’
‘Kevan Hankinson and his team are outstanding. His knowledge is incredible but, more than anything, he’s human and always goes the extra mile to ensure you are fully looked after.’
‘I think their strengths are delivering a high level of customer service by getting to know their clients on a personal level, making them feel at ease, being transparent and honest, understanding each case to be able to guide accordingly, nothing was too much trouble for any member of the team.’
‘Butcher and Barlow’s family team is uniquely attuned to each client’s needs. They are demonstrably committed to achieving the best possible outcomes in each case and show genuine concern for the client at each stage of the process.’
‘Helen Oakes is a joy to work with. She is attentive, kind, intuitive and a truly dedicated lawyer – just the person a client would naturally turn to for guidance through their personal disputes. Helen is just as dedicated and equipped in complex care proceedings as she is in financial matters, and works with the same resolve and commitment with clients from all walks of life.’
Nicola Fraser was recently promoted to head of the family department at boutique firm Gorvins Solicitors, which primarily focuses on family matrimonial matters. It also provides specialist services to the public sector, particularly to UK-wide police federations. Its private client base includes barristers and solicitors in the region.
‘The team members are approachable and trustworthy.’
gunnercooke LLP's family practice is spearheaded by Roland Humphreys, who has 'particular expertise in dealing with high-value financial settlement cases as well as complex children's cases, often with an international element'. He also has notable specialist experience in agricultural cases with a family component.
‘Feels like a very personal service but with access to a wide range of expertise if needed. There is no being passed around different fee earners. Because of the set up there is great flexibility in how a case can be dealt with to suit each individual client.’
‘Roland Humphreys is an outstanding family lawyer. Technically very knowledgeable but with great personal skills. He is very empathetic but commercially aware. He always puts clients’ best interests at the forefront, but also “tells it like it is”. A real fighter. He has particular expertise in dealing with high-value financial settlement cases as well as complex children’s cases, often with an international element.’
Jolliffe & Co LLP
Jolliffe & Co LLP’s team handles a variety of high-value financial remedy instructions for a client base comprising medium- to high-net-worth individuals, business owners and other professionals in the region. The team, which is led by Elizabeth Hassall, is also particularly active in negotiating prenuptial agreements.
‘Elizabeth Halsall, who is the head of the family team, is a highly-skilled, intelligent family lawyer, with exceptional experience. The team is significantly enhanced by having her as head of the family team.’
‘Elizabeth Halsall stands out as an exceptional matrimonial lawyer, whose experience and skill is second to none.’
Led by Victoria Melling, who 'handles exceptionally complex cases with great care and skill', the family team at KBL Solicitors LLP acts for high-net-worth clients in matrimonial proceedings, dealing with highly complex financial settlements. Prenuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements, Children Act cases and domestic abuse issues are also key areas of strength. Another name to note is associate solicitor Ceri Thomas.
‘Victoria Melling is a solicitor with a great deal of experience in both family money and children cases. She has a calm and measured approach, which instils confidence in clients and is attractive to any Court. She handles exceptionally complex cases with great care and skill.’
‘They offer a friendly down to earth service and make the clients feel valued.’
‘Ceri Thomas is hard working and client-focused, prepared to go the extra mile to get a good outcome.’
‘I do appreciate how Ms. Ceri Thomas and Ms. Julie Stott act with honesty and integrity at all times and I am happy for them to engage with me in a direct, yet professional manner.’
‘This small specialist team has an excellent reputation across the board for family matters and one which belies its modest size. A very safe and caring pair of hands.’
‘Both Vic Melling and Ceri Thomas frequently go above and beyond – sensible advice coupled with a determined client-friendly approach mark out this highly personable and professional duo.’
‘Strong and determined team with an excellent local presence.’
‘Vic is my go-to family solicitor. She is caring, responsive and determined. I have complete confidence that she is working to get her clients the best outcome.’
‘Victoria Melling is experienced and very sensible. She has good judgement.’
‘Victoria Melling is everything you would want from a lawyer. Attentive, understanding, patient, listens and most importantly knows the law to deliver effective outcomes.’
Kuit Steinart Levy LLP handles matters in relation to separating couples and pre-emptive wealth protection, with an increased focus on nuptial agreements and surrogacy matters. The team’s client base comprises high-net-worth individuals, family businesses and pre-existing clients from the firm’s commercial and property client rosters. Colin Davies now leads the practice after Michael Gregory departed to Knights plc in 2020.
‘Kuits Steinart Levy LLP are a great firm who provide a fantastic level of service for their clients. Their advice is sensible and pragmatic and their cases are always really well-prepared.’
‘Excellent client care, knowledge and professionalism.’
‘Knowledgeable, experienced and approachable. We do not hesitate to refer family matters to Kuits. They have expertise in ancillary work, child care and complex issues such as pensions.’
The family department at Shoosmiths LLP has a track record in handling private law children disputes arising from relationship breakdowns. The team also acts for high-net-worth clients in marital and non-marital asset cases, often using alternative dispute resolution methods including mediation and collaborative law.
‘Although this is a very corporate firm, the family team approach issues from a human and practical perspective which equips them well. The team in Manchester is quite small but nevertheless responsive and undertakes good quality, high-value work.’
At Watson Ramsbottom, the family team is a go-to group for private child issues in the region including complex domestic abuse and stalking matters; it has also developed a 'national reputation for work around coercive control' and deals with high-profile cases involving cyberstalking. Rachel Horman heads up the practice.
‘Watson Ramsbottom is an approachable, knowledgeable and trustworthy firm. Rachel Horman and the rest of the team offer a friendly, reliable service in relation to all Family matters. They go the extra mile for their clients to get the best resolve for them.’
‘This is a team that is very much part of the local community. They are all hardworking and committed to giving good advice and ensuring the client gets the best possible service.’
‘Extensive experience of cases involving domestic abuse and in particular a national reputation for work around coercive control. This includes training other professionals as well as casework supporting survivors.’
‘Rachel Horman has expertise in domestic abuse, stalking and coercive control. A wealth of knowledge around the issues including practical support for survivors.’
‘Watson Ramsbottom’s expertise in domestic abuse is market-leading. It is simply the best law firm I have ever worked with this field. This expertise has two effects, firstly it means that clients with the traditional family law issues get a first-class service. This simply allows results to be achieved which other firms couldn’t deliver.’