Family in North

David Gray Solicitors LLP

The sizeable Newcastle-based team of specialised family experts at David Gray Solicitors LLP is ‘dynamic, professional and extremely helpful’ and ‘provides excellent service from start to finish.’ The group provides a comprehensive private family law offering and stands out for its public law family offering. Lucy Mead is a member of the Law Society Children Panel and a Resolution accredited specialist in domestic abuse, advanced financial provision and cohabitation. She heads up the team whose ‘level of knowledge is superb.’ The group's managing partner Elspeth Thomson continues to represent adopters and children in cases with cross-border elements. Lesley Monkhouse who has particular expertise in parental alienation is praised by clients: ‘I could not have asked for a better person to take my case, Lesley’s knowledge of family law is unapparelled.’ Senior associate Anna Curphey specialises in care proceedings and child protection.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Mead

Other key lawyers:

Elspeth Thomson; Lesley Monkhouse; Claire Hunter; Anna Curphey


‘Elspeth Thomson is a very experienced children law specialist who has many years of running complex cases. She leads the whole firm and passes her knowledge and experience to many of the excellent lawyers in the family team. Lesley Monkhouse gives excellent client care and a lot of attention to detail: she gets great results for clients. Anna Curphey has a lovely warm manner which is great for building rapport with clients. Anna is a safe pair of hand who always goes the extra mile.’

‘Anna Curphey was my Solicitor, and the person I spoke to primarily about anything that occurred during my case. She was honest and open with me from the start of the court proceedings. She was clear, concise and able to listen to my concerns, as well help me decide the best actions for myself and my son. Anna remained professional at all times and really made my first experience with court, and solicitors a positive one (even though circumstances were anything but positive).’

‘This is a special practice that works directly, quickly and concisely. The have a skilled set of Lawyers that in my opinion are second to none in the North East. The level of knowledge is superb, they are respectful of your situation but are very direct in giving you an opinion and strategy which is exactly what you need.’

Major Family Law

Major Family Law stands out in the as a specialist family and child law boutique housing a sizeable team of experts. The group is praised for its client care which is described as ‘second to none’. Managing director Joanne Hilary Major leads a strong team made up of highly experienced senior family lawyers and junior solicitors providing a pyramid structure of knowledge to their clients. Anna Hunter is experienced in complex children work with expertise in international and internal relocation and cases involving serious allegations of abuse. Legal director and litigator Lucinda Connell is experienced in alternative dispute resolution. Senior associate Sam Carter and associate Sahil Aggarwal are praised by clients as key team members.

Practice head(s):

Joanne Hilary Major

Other key lawyers:

Anna Hunter; Lucinda Connell; Jonathan Dunkley; Rona Samuel; Sam Carter; Calvin Walker; Sahil Aggarwal; Stacy Williams


‘My experience with this firm, particularly my solicitor Stacy Williams, has been exceptional. My case was complicated and emotional and the response time, support and advice received proved to be above and beyond my expectations. I felt listened to and my opinions and wishes were always taken into consideration. I also felt challenged when necessary and guided well throughout my lengthy proceedings. I was updated constantly with regards to costs and predicted costs which were managed in accordance with what I could afford and plan for, and I was relieved where possible of as much of the stressful legalities of my case, which I simply couldn’t have managed alone.’

‘My solicitor (Stacy Williams) was extremely engaged throughout my lengthy proceedings. She offered understanding, comfort and support in an extremely difficult time in my life. She was always on hand to take my calls, and messages and would always respond within a matter of hours, which in my experience is above and beyond what should be expected. She worked on my case out of hours, and took the time to really understand my situation putting her in the strongest position to support me and build the best case possible.’

‘Sahil brought lots of experience to my case and also a level head, very rational and kept the case on track when things became difficult in my divorce. Stacy was more personable and a more delicate touch, yet still very professional and experienced. She helped me see through the drama and focus on what we needed for a successful outcome.’

‘At Major Family Law Joanne Major has assembled a truly outstanding team made up of a mixture of highly experienced matrimonial lawyers and younger rising stars. The firm goes the extra mile to provide its clients with a very high quality of service and leaves no stone unturned in seeking to achieve the best possible outcome for them. I am very familiar with the matrimonial finance scene in Newcastle, as I am instructed by numerous firms in the city, but I have no doubt that the best matrimonial finance firm in the Newcastle/the North East is Major Family Law. When I was asked to recommend a firm to represent a friend of a friend in a difficult case, I had no hesitation whatsoever in recommending Major Family Law, and they did not disappoint!’

‘Jonathan Dunkley and Lewis Hulatt, both consultants at the firm, have a wealth of experience, superb client care skills and very highly developed commercial acumen. Lucinda Connell is a brilliant solicitor who rises above any “white noise” in a case so as to hone in on the real issues. Calvin Walker is younger, but a rising star – bright and incisive, he rightly inspires confidence in his clients.’

‘They are our obvious and clear first choice recommendation for family law matters in the North for our clients and contacts. They combine a great personal service with innovation. I have been particularly impressed by their team growth in the last 12 months and the introduction of the specialist information website in the last year.’

‘The team at Major all have a client-centric approach and have a specialism in family law. The greatest pride is taken in client care and technical capabilities of the team are unrivalled in the North East region where they are highly regarded as the go to family law firm.’

‘Stephanie Layton is one of the standout family lawyers in the North East. Her excellent technical expertise, particularly with financial and family matters, means Stephanie navigates complex issues with ease owing to her calm and reassuring nature. Stephanie is an excellent advocate and her passion for the job and for delivering results for clients is refreshing.’

Silk Family Law

Newcastle-based boutique Silk Family Law is described by clients as ‘the go-to matrimonial solicitors in the North’ and as being ‘clever, knowledgeable and personable. They provide strength in depth and excellent service all round.’ The sizeable team is co-lead by in-house barrister Ian Kennerley, expert in high value and complex financial matters, Kim Fellowes who is referred to as ‘an absolute jewel of the matrimonial finance world’ and Wayne Lynn who has particular experience in cohabitation disputes and nuptial agreements. Margaret Simpson assists clients in complex matrimonial finance involving land and business assets. Associate Eleanor Lowes ‘is rising through the ranks and is a very efficient and astute lawyer.’ 

Practice head(s):

Kim Fellowes; Ian Kennerley; Wayne Lynn

Other key lawyers:

Margaret Simpson; Eleanor Lowes; Kate Machin


‘Confident, competent, knowledgeable, reassuring, reliable.’

‘Wayne Lynn- supportive and clear representation of my position. Over the 10 years I spent in family court I never felt more reassured that my position would be represented and heard than when Wayne was at my side.’

‘Kim Fellowes goes above and beyond in helping her clients, always armed with the right advice and never afraid to take the other side on. She is kind and cheerful to work with, but a hard nose litigator when she needs to be.’

‘All round the go to firm for matrimonial work in the North and beyond. They know what they’re good at and this makes them excellent in their niche. I recommend any of my clients who need this service to use Silk.’

‘Silk Family law are unique in having an in house counsel and the benefit of this is seen in their advice to clients. Their solicitors and legal executives have a real depth and breadth of experience.’

‘All of the team are extremely knowledgeable, efficient and experienced. They manage unusual cases with ease and their speed of response is excellent. Wayne Lynn offers sound and practical advice and really cares about his clients to give them the best outcome.’

‘Kim Fellowes is an absolute jewel of the matrimonial finance world. She goes above and beyond in helping her clients, always armed with the right advice and never afraid to take the other side on.’

‘Margaret Simpson has many years’ experience in dealing with HNW divorces. She knows the law inside out – and is definitely the lawyer to have on your side in a battle.’


Burnetts‘ family team is headed by Carlisle-based Simon Mortimer who specialises in farming cases and cases involving substantial assets. Emma Armstrong specialises in family farm and businesses and has experience dealing with a range of children matters including domestic and international relocation and parental alienation. Vikki Porthouse advises on the financial and property aspects of divorce proceedings and private children matters including Child Arrangement Orders and Special Guardianship orders.

Practice head(s):

Simon Mortimer

Other key lawyers:

Vikki Porthouse; Emma Armstrong

Hay & Kilner

Hay & Kilner’s family department handles high-value financial matters pursuant to separation and divorce, nuptial agreements, public and private law children matters via negotiations, litigation and collaborative processes. The team headed by Nicola Matthews is regularly instructed in cases involving complex assets including trusts, companies, pensions, property portfolios, and digital assets and cryptocurrencies. Christian Butler is reputed for handling financial remedy matters and is a strong litigator. Senior associate Kerry Kelso has expertise handling sensitive and complex cases involving domestic abuse or neglect. Kayleigh Bell joined from Kay Boswell in June 2022.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Matthews

Other key lawyers:

Christian Butler; Kerry Kelso; Kayleigh Bell


‘Christian Butler and his team are a pleasure to work with. Attentive, professional and approachable at all times’

‘Hay and Kilner have a strong family department. I have come across Christian Butler on two occasions over the last 12 months Christian is the standout performer in their Child Care Family team which he heads. Christian is a lawyer who provides the same high standard of legal expertise to all clients no matter how difficult their personality or troubles. He is a solicitor for everyone regardless of social standing.’

‘Christian Butler has a fearless dedication to his clients grounded in common sense pragmatism and a lot of legal skill. He has an understanding and can empathise with his clients and the problems they face. He is sensitive and fights his clients corner. I was instructed by him in a difficult case for a difficult mother in residence / contact proceedings with great skill Christian steered his client to calmer waters. He made a difference to this mother’s life and it was the fact that she believed in him whereas the previous solicitors she had she hadn’t. This made a fundamental difference to her representation and the eventual result for this client. few practitioners would have been able to turn the case round in such a way. It took genuine skill. Also I recommend Kayleigh Bell up and coming and very able.’

Sintons LLP

Sintons LLP’ Newcastle-based family team ‘is one of excellence’ with a holistic service offering ranging from complex Children Act matters, matrimonial finance, domestic abuse and child arrangement matters including multijurisdictional elements. Collaborative lawyer and litigator Louise Masters heads the practice and is described as ‘an extremely talented lawyer, innovative, sensible, and focused on obtaining the best possible outcome for the family with the least possible cost and stress.’ Key team member Sophie Croft has recently expanded her practice into surrogacy cases and is providing training to third parties in this area.

Practice head(s):

Louise Masters

Other key lawyers:

Sophie Croft


‘The family team at Sintons is extremely friendly, efficient and talented. They are ably led by Louise Masters who is an extremely well-respected family lawyer, especially in dispute resolution and collaborative family law. Louise Masters in particular has great vision in relation to how collaborative family law can be applied to different family situations, such as cohabitation agreements in Court of Protection cases.’

‘The entire team at Sintons have always been exemplary when we have referred clients to them. Their industry knowledge is exceptional and ability to adapt to different client personalities during traumatic times in their lives and provide reassurance is incredibly impressive as is why they are regional leaders in the field.’

‘Louise Masters and Sophie Croft. Louise leads by example and has exceptional industry knowledge. Despite being the leading partner Louise still goes out of her way to talk to clients that have concerns and provide that reassurance. She is also a champion of women in the workplace. Sophie Croft is a source of knowledge for his whole wider team and has a reputation of being highly detail-oriented.’

Swinburne Maddison LLP

The family team at Swinburne Maddison LLP based in Durham acts for clients in public and private children law matters, matrimonial finance, and divorce proceedings. Legal director Kath Hill is a mediator and collaborative lawyer and heads up the team which is described as being professional, ‘kind, friendly and … non-judgmental.’ Managing associate Catherine Lowther has experience with highly sensitive care proceedings as well as with internal and international relocation cases. Ellie Straughan joined from Jacksons Law Firm in January 2023.

Practice head(s):

Kath Hill

Other key lawyers:

Catherine Lowther


‘Kath Hill takes great pride in her job and truly respects her clients. She doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, she tells you the facts and the options which, for me, is what I need. I don’t want things to be sugar coated in case things don’t turn out that way. Her empathy flows out of her but is still very professional.’

‘Wisdom, professionalism, guidance and experience are the words that spring to mind with regard to Kath Hill. With my matter I felt I was getting the best advice at a time when I could not see things clearly.’

‘I worked with Kath Hill after a recommendation. Kath was very knowledgeable and experienced in what was required in my case to help me. I would recommend Kath Hill highly to anyone needing support with family law.’

‘Their team, which is spread across several offices in the North East, displays significant experience of dealing with substantial cases.’

‘Kath Hill. She shows a nice mix empathy and realistic advice for clients.’

‘Kath Hill is a brilliant, collaborative lawyer. Kath makes collaborative working look incredibly easy, she is hugely skillful and her warm, yet professional nature puts parties at ease whilst instilling confidence. Kath is an absolute pleasure to work alongside.’

‘Swinburne Maddison’s family team are well respected in relation to all family law matters. The team is led by Kath Hill who is a respected mediator and collaborative lawyer. Catherine Lowther is extremely approachable and is also committed to dispute resolution.’

‘Kath Hill. Kath is a well-known and well-respected family lawyer. She is particularly known for her dispute resolution work as a mediator and collaborative lawyer. I have worked with Kath on several cases both in the collaborative and traditional settings and have always found her to be down to earth, sensible and good to work with. Kath strives to reduce and minimise emotion and conflict between parties and also has a good technical ability in advocacy.’

Work highlights

  • Representing a client in connection with defending an Application for permission to remove their children from the jurisdiction.
  • Acting on behalf of a client in respect of a successful claim to enforce the maintenance element of a Consent Order which was agreed several years earlier.
  • Representing a client in a case which involves significant allegations of parental alienation, sexual abuse and drug misuse.


BHP Law’s Tynemouth-based family law team acts for clients in a wide range of private and public family matters from divorce, matrimonial finance, child arrangements, care proceedings to domestic abuse. The group is headed by Andrea Hewitson drawing on her expertise as a qualified resolution and collaborative lawyer. Darlington-based financial remedy expert Amanda Adeola is regularly instructed in mid to high value matrimonial finance and represents clients at court at all stages of the proceedings.

Practice head(s):

Andrea Hewitson

Other key lawyers:

Amanda Adeola


‘I have nothing but praise for the sensitive and tenacious manner in which my case has been handled.’

‘Amanda Adeola, has remained a constant strength, providing me with sound legal advice and support. My ex was sentenced to a three year prison sentence during the divorce proceedings which complicated an already difficult divorce and despite the tactics used by my ex and his legal team, she kept me focused on the end game which was to get me and my daughter out of this toxic relationship. I spoke to a number of firms before contacting BHP. Amanda came very highly recommended and after our initial discussion I could see why, she was very impressive and unlike any of the other firms I had spoken to she was the only one that I felt had a genuine interest in my case.’

‘Was recommended to me by another solicitor because I needed someone who had an understanding of agricultural family disputes’

EMG Solicitors

The experienced family team at EMG Solicitors handles all family matters, from financial disputes to children law matters in the form of mediation to litigation. Practice head Julia Middleton is described as having ‘vast experience but is very approachable and adept at putting her clients at ease.’ Senior associate Sue McArthur is a resolution accredited specialist and family mediator and is described as being ‘robust, thorough and achieves results.’ Gemma Holmes is experienced at dealing with divorce, separation, cases involving domestic violence and cohabitation cases. Kelsey Cant joined from PGS Law LLP in July 2022.

Practice head(s):

Julia Middleton

Other key lawyers:

Sue McArthur; Gemma Holden


‘The firm stands out regionally for their approach to their staff and clients. They are supportive of the growth of the next generation of lawyers, gives back to the community with various initiatives with a heavy focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.’

‘Gemma Holmes is a very experienced lawyer. She is calm, collected and very approachable. A level headed lawyer who considers all aspects of the case, focusing on resolving matters amicable and able to negotiate the best outcomes for her clients.’

‘EMG is a firm closely aligned to our own as they demonstrably put the client at the centre of everything they do. As legal advisers they are approachable and knowledgable. The firm embraces diversity and this is what makes their team so unique in the legal world in my opinion.’

‘Very experienced, client focused, and value for money.’

‘I felt it was very bespoke to my needs. That never issue to call and not judge at all. I was given fair advice and I felt the team always put my best interests first. They advise me long term about the choices I was making now and how I can have balance and more happy life. I was able to my true self and involved my family but I always made the final decisions but I was accompanied with having my family there if needed. Use of google drives, online forms and billing made everything simple – about work around my busy life and I felt all was safe in one place. I could deal urgent enquiries and share information fast using these systems. Use of remote working meant we could fit appointment in easier than face to face. But when face to face was needed I could have as and when. I felt protected and care for.’

‘Julia Middleton has been highest standard of professionalism. Julia has been every I could wish in someone handling my case. I never judge for what has been emotional time in my life. I feel no question was stupid question and the reality of situation was always given too me. The conversations and advice I have had with Julia will benefit myself and my children long term. I feel we have very define client and solicitor relationship and I feel her years of experience and advice on alternative ways we had to handle difficult situations have been excellent and protect me and my children’

‘I have always found the family team at EMG incredibly knowledge, welcoming and friendly. I personally feel that when solicitors have the ability to put people at ease and feel safe this is such an important part of the journey especially in family law which is often focused around events which can be traumatic such as divorce and child matters.’

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP’s family department is led by Emily Cannell who is described as ‘a class act’. The team includes Rachel Smith and handles all family law matters ranging from relationship breakdowns, including cohabitation and pre-nuptial agreements, TOLATA disputes and divorce as well as financial remedies. The team is adept to resolve cases in the mediation phase as well as litigating contentious matters. Cannell is described as having a ‘razor-sharp intellect’, with ‘exceptional interpersonal skills’, and ‘her knowledge of clients’ files is something to behold.’  

Practice head(s):

Emily Cannell

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Smith


‘Mincoffs Family dept is made up of a highly skilled team of individuals, often specialising in the obscure and unusual cases no other family dept would touch. This is the true definition of an expert. The have an unwavering commitment to resolving matters out of court, through the provision of sound legal advice coupled with alternative dispute resolution processes, such as mediation.’

‘Emily Cannell and Rachel Smith are both experts in their chosen field. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with their clients. Such knowledge is always up to date, making them one step ahead and placing them at the cutting edge of their profession.’

‘Good well run team, efficient, capable, do not overcharge, down to earth.’

Ward Hadaway LLP

Ward Hadaway LLP’s family department acts in myriad family matters including high value and complex divorce settlements, children law matters, including matters involving multi-jurisdictional elements. Jonathan Flower heads up the team in Newcastle alongside Louise Cannell-Mirza who was promoted to partner in May 2022. Next to litigating complex divorces, Jonathan has significant experience handling children matters involving abduction as well as care and adoption proceedings. Gemma Iceton is a key member of the matrimonial team. The group is developing expertise in the area of fertility law including surrogacy arrangements.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Flower; Louise Cannell-Mirza

Other key lawyers:

Gemma Iceton; Nev Zaki; Simon Dakers


‘I would like to recognise, Louise Cannell-Mirza, Nev Zaki, Louise Moorcroft as team members who’s work stands out. Louise and Nev have a level of expertise and deep seated interest children and family law that I absorbed when working with them both. Nev has covered cases in Louise absence and her preparation is second to none.’

‘Excellent Family Law Team, headed up by Jonathan Flower who is a fantastic Solicitor. Jonathan has regularly hosted Legal updates for our local Cafcass team and is very much well thought of and respected Solicitor. He is extremely knowledgeable and would be the ‘go to’ solicitor in dealing with high conflict/complex cases. Louise Cannell-Mirza and Simon Dakers are also excellent advocates.’

‘I have found Ms Iceton’s team are all very well informed of the case should Ms Iceton be unavailable, should I be in need of help or advice. The team are all very efficient, professional and give relevant advice. They all work together to collate and provide information which helps to keep costs down and are very thorough in their individual roles.’

‘Ms Iceton is very transparent in her work with me, giving relevant and professional advice. She always replies on time when contacted and ensures her team are up to date with the case. I would highly recommend Ms Iceton and her team due to the level of professionalism, empathy shown and value for money. Ms Iceton was able to recommend a selection of barristers when required with no force as to who I should choose and she always made me feel comfortable and supported.’

‘Contact with this team is always pleasant. All interactions with the team are appropriate, succinct, polite & professional. Where a response is required, an accurate one is usually received swiftly. Communication is impressive, with members of the team being able to answer queries even when the key contact isn’t available – this helps create trust & is a very valuable, though difficult to measure, trait. The initial registration as a client was electronic and worked very smoothly – with several opportunities to ask for help if required.’

‘Gemma Iceton agreed to take on my Family Law case at a difficult stage, mid-proceedings, when I was unhappy with the way another firm handled my case. From the initial contact via email and then phone I was reassured by her willingness to listen without judgement, her quick assessment of the individual situation and honest but gentle explanation of how she felt it was best to proceed. Through the stresses of what felt like an endless episode of complications Gemma maintained the same level of professionalism and support. Responses to queries have always been timely, thorough and professional. Gemma continues to demonstrate understanding and compassion throughout. At no time has it ever felt as if Gemma was ‘simply doing her job’, the childrens’ welfare is always at the core of her advice and the reassurance that provides is invaluable – I have not found this to be the case with other solicitors.’

‘Louise Cannel-Mirza cared for my feelings more than anybody else, understanding the impacts of domestic abuse, and indeed took care of my emotions. She is the one who cars for clients, NOT caring for money.’

‘This is a strong team. I have worked with Gemma Iceton for a number of years and she is caring, sensitive and always listens to her clients, which is crucial. Her entire team have the same values, work ethic and conscientious attitude when helping clients.’

Browell Smith & Co Solicitors Ltd

Annitsford-based private family law team at Browell Smith & Co Solicitors Ltd’s handles complex high net worth matrimonial finance and private law children matters. Practice head Victoria Lant has expertise in complex children law proceedings and domestic abuse cases. Sarah Tweedie is a resolution accredited specialist in private children law advocacy and domestic abuse.

Practice head(s):

Victoria Lant

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Tweedie

Stowe Family Law LLP

Stowe Family Law LLP recently made an entrance in the North with offices in Durham and Newcastle and a strong offering involving emotional and psychological abuse, coercive control, and complex Children Act matters. The team led by Nicky Hunter and including Sarah Crilly, is frequently called upon to advise on nuptial agreements, civil partnerships, and legal advice for same-sex and cohabiting couples. They also provide a collaborative law practice and an in-house ADR offering.

Practice head(s):

Nicky Hunter

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Crilly; David Allen; Hollie Morgan


‘This is the only family law firm in Newcastle with a national presence, and can therefore draw on expertise and experience from a very wide range of cases.’ 

‘Being a firm specialised in family law, the team can solve cases (unusual divorce problems for instance) which a general law firm might find it more difficult to do.’

‘The family team at Stowe is highly motivated and energetic in their approach. They have a real focus on building relationships with clients and resolving disputes in an amicable and constructive way, where possible.’

‘Hollie Morgan is a stellar solicitor with a calm and friendly approach to her cases. She is extremely organised and has a high technical ability both advising and in advocacy. She specialises in all areas of family law and has experience with complex high value financial matters.’

‘David Allen is a real rising star. His approach is always calm, considered and empathetic. His advice is clear and wide-ranging – he really considers a case from all angles and strives to plan for every eventuality. He is determined and unflappable. His knowledge of the law is impressive. It is always a real pleasure working with him.’

Tilly Bailey & Irvine

Based across Durham, Tees Valley and North Yorkshire, the private family law team at Tilly Bailey & Irvine, led by matrimonial finance specialist Wendy Beacom, handles separation matters as well as pre-and post-nuptial agreements. The team also advises clients in private children law matters, especially in internal and external relocation issues.

Practice head(s):

Wendy Beacom


‘TBI Family dept comprises a group of highly experienced lawyers, with a range of skills and wealth of knowledge. This is a testament, in part, to their dept head Wendy Beacom. The team are knowledgeable, yet approachable, making them the perfect choice for client’s seeking guidance through the divorce process.’

‘Wendy Beacom applies her broad knowledge base to take a very practical and supportive approach with her clients. She is the living embodiment of a safe pair of hands, at a time when they are needed the most.’

‘This is a great family law firm. Very professional, extremely knowledgeable and reasonably priced. I recommend this firm 100%.’