Family in Scotland

Brodies LLP

The family practice at Brodies LLP has a strong reputation for its work advising separating couples in complex divorce and civil partnership dissolutions, often with cross-border and international aspects. Shaun George, the practice head, is an accredited family law arbitrator and mediator, whose practice is centred on high-value divorce cases with a cross-border element. Richard B Smith is adept at dealing with financial provision where assets are locked into businesses, while Lisa Girdwood focuses on residency and contact arrangements for children, and also has particular experience in child abduction cases. The firm also advises on pre- and post-nuptial agreements, the rights of non-married but cohabiting partners, and adoption disputes. Jennifer Wilkie is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Shaun George


‘Excellent, pragmatic advice aimed at reaching an agreeable resolution as early as possible.’

‘Brodies have a very experienced team spread geographically – in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. They are one of the leading firms in this area.’

‘This firm has multiple capabilities that are readily available to its clients. Extremely professional front line and support staff. Friendly, empathetic and exceptionally knowledgeable.’

‘Professional, discreet, loyal, honest service by people who care about their clients.’

‘I highly value the advice that Richard B Smith gives. He takes the time to get a clear understanding of the situation at hand in complex cases. This proves invaluable. He responds very quickly to all communications.’

‘Shaun George is calm and sensible – a good manager of his team, allows them to develop skills. Has excellent reputation in alternative dispute resolution, collaboration and mediation.’

Richard Smith is thorough, hard working and caring. Brings on his staff well. Calm and safe pair of hands.’

‘Lisa Girdwood is hard working, caring and knowledgeable.’

‘Richard Smith is a very experienced practitioner. He instils confidence in clients and takes a sensible approach.’

‘Jennifer Wilkie has built up experience particularly in dealing with cases with an international/cross-border element.’

‘Every individual that I have engaged with in this firm have demonstrated a real in-depth knowledge and understanding of the many issues that in my case required to be dealt with.’

‘I was in a very tricky situation and desperately needed advice and reassurance, which is exactly what i received from Richard B Smith. I would not hesitate to recommend Richard or his team in the future.’


SKO is a boutique practice focused firmly on family law. Founding director Rachael Kelsey, the former chair of the Family Law Association, has considerable experience in intra-UK financial cases, where she has successfully argued for Scottish jurisdiction to apply. The firm acts in high-conflict divorce cases, often on behalf of high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals, with an extremely strong track record of achieving favourable outcomes for its clients. Within divorce proceedings, the firm has acted on pre- and post-nuptial agreement set-asides, with Alison Edmondson centering her practice on such issues. Robert Gilmour is well-regarded for his knowledge of surrogacy matters, while child residency and contact is another strength; the team has been retained to advise on cases with both intra-UK and international dimensions. Associate John West has expertise on pensions law as it affects family matters, and EU and Hague Convention family law, while associate Claire Christie has strong credentials with regards to financial provision.


‘One of Scotland’s few dedicated, specialist matrimonial and family law experts.’

‘They have an unrivalled breadth and depth of knowledge. Their lawyers are consistently responsive, empathetic and demonstrate a deep understanding of the law.’

‘By far the best family team in Scotland, but they are more than that. Rachael Kelsey’s encyclopaedic knowledge of international law means that the work they do is for clients around the world. They are not just stuffy lawyers though, they are human beings who try to deal with cases in as cooperative and dignified a way as possible, while always doing the best for their client. They are a pleasure to work with.’

‘The foremost family law firm in Scotland. What makes it exceptional is that covers the full range of private client family law with a significant focus on international work. The team’s approachable and cooperative approach is immediately apparent. They clearly like and trust each other and this is of incomparable value to the clients. ‘

‘Robert Gilmour has a very sensitive but practical and analytical approach to clients’

‘Rachael Kelsey is a market leader. She has a profile in the area of family law beyond the confines of Scotland. She undertakes a significant volume of high profile, complex and cross-border/international cases. Clients are reliant on her advice and appreciate her down to earth approach.’

‘Alison Edmondson is meticulous in her approach. She is very empathetic whilst also giving clients firm advice.’

‘John West has an excellent understanding of cross-border issues.’

‘Rachael Kelsey is simply outstanding. She is so dedicated to her clients as well as the wider family law world. She works incredibly hard and is very good at looking at the bigger picture. She is an absolute pleasure to work with.’

‘John West is a very bright lawyer whose attention to detail is exceptional.’

‘Robert Gilmour is renowned for his technical knowledge. He has been particularly helpful in relation to surrogacy matters where he appears to be a leading expert on Scots Law.  ‘

‘Rachael Kelsey has a way of understanding people and communicating with them even when they are stuck in the emotion of the situation which gets through. This is a rare skill with a lawyer who is also technical exceptional, not just on her own narrow field but on just about anything there is to know. ‘

‘Rachael Kelsey is the doyenne of Scots family law and has an international profile unmatched by any other Scottish solicitor from her involvement in International Academy of Family Lawyers.’

‘Susan Oswald has a niche practice in cross-border litigation particularly involving English local authorities.’

‘John West is the rising star of Scots family law. He is regularly asked to speak on the subject internationally.’

Key clients

Salford City Council

Gateshead Borough Council

Work highlights

  • Successfully interdicted another firm from acting in divorce action for Kae Tinto Murray, the wife of former Rangers Football Club owner Sir David Murray.
  • Provided Scottish advice in the first case on the Maintenance Regulation intra-UK to go to the Supreme Court.
  • Advised Salford City Council on a successful petition to the Nobile Officium in case concerning welfare of vulnerable child in local authority care.

Turcan Connell

The family practice at Turcan Connell has particular expertise in divorce and separation agreements for extremely wealthy families. As part of a full-service firm, the team are well-equipped to assess asset division and financial provision for individuals whose financial arrangements are complex and diversified across trusts, company shares, rural and farming businesses, and are distributed across multiple jurisdictions. The firm has acted on a number of child contact and residency cases where one partner is seeking the children’s residence in a non-EU and Hague convention country. Firmwide managing partner Gillian Crandles leads the team, and advises on many of the firm’s most high-value cases, supported by well-regarded associate Jennifer Macdonald. Lindsey Ogilvie, made up to partner in 2018, is a solicitor advocate, while senior associate David Coutts is another name to note; he leads the Glasgow family team and is experienced in complex financial provision cases.

Practice head(s):

Gillian Crandles


‘The team’s strength comes from the depth of knowledge, experience and leadership by Gillian Crandles. They offer clients clear and considered advice in an area that is often highly charged emotionally and guide clients through a complex legal area that often does not make sense to the lay person.’

‘Gillian Crandles offers clients clear and approachable advice. She will tell it as she sees it, is highly knowledgeable and articulate and clients will leave a consultation with all the information they need to make the right decision. Gillian’s management of the team is excellent and she allows her team to get on with their jobs but offers guidance and support when needed.’

Jennifer Macdonald has worked closely with Gillian over the years and brings that experience to any client needing advice. Her calm and reassuring personality and attention to detail combine with an ability to listen to offer a complete service to her clients.’

Balfour+Manson LLP

Balfour+Manson LLP's family practice is chiefly focused on divorce work. The firm has a track record of work on financial provision, cases relating to cohabitants’ rights, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, child residence and contact arrangements. Shona H Smith, who leads the practice, is a qualified arbitrator and mediator, and has negotiated settlements both in the Sheriff Court and in the Court of Session. Lynne Mulcahy has extensive experience in complex financial provision cases for high net worth individuals. Kirsten Knight’s practice is geared towards cases with an international aspect, while Jamie Foulis, made partner in 2017, focuses on pre- and post-nuptial arrangements.

Practice head(s):

Shona Smith


‘Balfour+Manson has been a heavyweight in the family law sector in Scotland for many years. They have an excellent client base in both Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Shona Smith brings a wealth of experience as head of the practice and is well supported by her other partners and at solicitor level.’

‘The team works very well together and the members really care about the client. That shines through in the way they deal with matters. A great strength which makes the practice unique.’

‘Balfour+Manson are a firm which has many contacts throughout Scotland – it undertakes work in association with local agents. This is relatively unusual. Local agents therefore find the firm of particular assistance with complex cases proceeding in the Court of Session. The family team is experienced, sensible and pragmatic.’

‘A strong, well-led team with a depth and variety of talent, backed by a well-established firm with skills in multiple areas. The firm goes out of its way to provide a good service to other firms in remoter parts of Scotland.’

‘Lynne Mulcahy provided an exceptional service for me on a difficult and sensitive matter involving care arrangements for my young children and financial issues. Lynne has a sound grasp of the law and court procedure, but what really stood out for me was her common sense approach in the court proceedings. In all of the court hearings, Lynne demonstrated not only a firm grasp of the circumstances of my case but also a wider understanding of how families with children live and operate in the real world. This clearly impressed the judge immensely. Lynne is one of the best and most impressive lawyers I have ever come across.’

‘Shona Smith is pragmatic in her approach, and always works to finding a non litigious solution in the interests of her clients, when possible. A very calm approach, careful in her advice, and prepared to be very firm with clients when required. Her skill in reaching a solution is to be determined, but not aggressive which in a family case has the benefit of maintaining reasonable relations between parties for the future. Superbly well organised and prepared.’

‘Shona Smith stands out as the head of the Family Law team for her ability to be an expert in her field whilst remaining down to earth with clients and full of empathy. She made me feel she understood and would do everything to achieve a good but realistic outcome. She was the ideal solicitor throughout a very difficult journey.’

‘Iain Thomson stands out for his quick grasp on what needs to be done and efficiency in doing it.’.

BTO Solicitors LLP

BTO Solicitors LLP advises on divorce and separation cases with significant financial complexity, including where divisible assets are in the form of family trusts, non-moveable property, and pension funds. The team is also experienced in divorce cases with a high media profile, or where the parties have elevated requirements for reputation management. The firm has acted in complex child abduction cases, both within Hague convention signatories and without, having obtained emergency interdictions to prevent the removal of children by one party. Lesley Gordon leads the team, focusing on financial provision and cross-border cases. Senior associate Marjory Blair focuses on child protection issues, while senior associates Morvan Douglas and Debbie Reekie are also key members of the team.

Practice head(s):

Lesley Gordon


‘An effective team operating in Edinburgh and Glasgow.’

‘Lesley Gordon is an excellent practitioner. Clients appreciate her clear, but sensitive advice and her attention to detail. Lesley undertakes collaborative work and is committed to finding resolutions for clients in the most appropriate way for their particular circumstances.’


Lindsays handle cases concerning complex financial provision, child residency, cohabitation agreements, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and Hague convention child abduction matters, using alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve tricky cases. Alison McKee heads up the practice from Glasgow, and in addition to her primary practice in divorce and residency cases, has practical experience of surrogacy disputes. Nina Taylor has a record of work on cases involving allegations of domestic abuse, sexual abuse and child abuse. Jennifer Gallagher, who is chair of the Family Law Association, and Duncan Mackinnon focus on safeguarding issues and cases involving vulnerable children.

Practice head(s):

Alison McKee


‘Jennifer Gallagher is the outstanding family lawyer at Lindsays. She has a quiet authority that her clients respect and admire.’

‘Alison McKee is pragmatic, sensible plus kind and considerate at a very difficult time.’

‘Duncan Mackinnon is an extremely knowledgeable and very experienced family law practitioner. He is very highly regarded by his peers. He is very approachable and has easy to talk to. He is committed to his clients and takes a pragmatic approach to solving legal problems. He is a pleasure to work with.’

MacRoberts LLP

The family law practice at MacRoberts LLP is well-regarded for its collaborative approach. Jacqueline Stroud, who heads the practice, is highly regarded for mediation, and is frequently referred work from other top firms. The team has a strong track record in assisting divorcing couples to come to mutually beneficial settlements regarding asset division, financial provision, and child contact. Marika Franceschi provides specialist knowledge of pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and has extensive experience in advising on divorces and separations with an international aspect, both in terms of asset location, and child residency. Senior associate Karen Nicol is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Jacqueline Stroud

Other key lawyers:

Marika Franceschi; Karen Nicol


‘Divorce is an awful thing to go through and the MacRoberts family law department show huge amounts of compassion. They are on your wavelength. Very approachable. They do not put themselves on a pedestal.’

‘Marika Franceschi makes the team work well . This legal team does not consist of “that’s what the computer says” types, but actual intelligent, motivated people.’

‘The lawyers dealing with my case have been wonderful – very knowledgeable as well as kind and supportive.’

‘Jacqueline Stroud was the reason I chose this firm and she lived up to expectations; she was available, even if she was away from the office she was always at the end of a text. Jacqueline has a lovely familiar manner but underneath it all she is very efficient, and in a gentle way is a ‘hardhat’ – she certainly stands firm if she needs to – even with her client!’

‘Jacqueline Stroud heads the team and brings an knowledgeable and enthusiastic presence to it.’

‘Marika Franceschi has a high profile and really connects with her clients, while also having real technical knowledge and expertise.’

Work highlights

  • Represented the wife in a highly sensitive case involving generational wealth potentially in excess of £5m.
  • Acting on behalf of a husband with interests in a number of startup companies which are not straightforward to value.
  • Advised on a case which required a creative and collaborative approach to achieve the parties’ joint aim of protecting their family business and finding a way to continue working together, post separation and divorce.

Morton Fraser

Morton Fraser’s 'experienced and highly regarded' family practice has a strong track record of work on complex financial provision cases for separating couples, frequently advising on challenging cases where marital wealth is in the form of businesses, farms, and trusts – and when businesses are jointly owned. A key strength of the practice is its competence in English as well as Scottish law, enabling it to handle divorce settlements in both jurisdictions in an 'effective and skilful way', while it has also recently looked to improve billing transparency for clients, introducing 'project-managed' billing. The firm is experienced in a wide range of cases involving children, having advised on contact and custody arrangements for dual-national children, and arranged interdictions to prevent children being taken by one parent outside of Scotland. 'Calm and pragmatic' practice head Rhona Adams has strong credentials in financial provision and mediation strategies, while in Glasgow, Fiona Sasan  provides considerable expertise in litigation strategy for hostile separations. Lucia Clark handles cross-border cases, and is dual-qualified in Scots and English law. Savita Sharma, who has a consulting role within the firm, also attracts high praise from clients.

Practice head(s):

Rhona Adams


‘Experienced, highly regarded firm and family team – dealing with complex, cross-jurisdictional matters in a pragmatic, effective and skilful way.’

‘One of the leading family law teams in Scotland. They have an experienced team.’

‘This is a top-tier firm in a unique position offering legal advice covering Scots law as well as English law. No stone is left unturned; the team are remarkably attentive to client needs.’

‘Rhona Adams’ professionalism and the quality of her work are to be commended.’

‘Savita Sharma is completely on the ball. A pleasure to work with and has a real eye for detail – spotting the legal issues and considers the tactical positioning to get the best outcome for her client. A ‘go-to’ in the field of family law – her dual qualification means she is perfectly equipped to deal with jurisdictional issues arising between Scotland and England & Wales.’

‘Rhona Adams and Lucia Clark are dual qualified in Scots and English law, which makes them well placed to advise in cross border matters. Rhona is hugely experienced and brings a calm and pragmatic approach. Lucia has a great technical knowledge and an eye for detail in legal matters.’

‘Fiona Sasan has what is perhaps an unmatched profile in the Glasgow family law market.’

‘Marisa Cullen has very extensive experience of Hague Convention (child abduction) applications. She is adept at identifying and dealing with the issues which arise quickly and efficiently.’

‘Fiona Sasan is one of the leading solicitors in this field. She is very experienced and provides pragmatic advice to clients.’

‘Rhona Adams has an excellent manner with clients – she provides sensible and sympathetic advice.’

‘Savita Sharma is an outstanding solicitor, dual qualified and so in a unique position to offer a very special service to clients. She is tenacious, highly forensic and adept at thinking of all angles in a case. She is a very fierce litigator but also equally able to negotiate and encourage settlement on excellent terms for her client.’

‘Lucia Clark has experience in cross-border and international cases in particular. She thinks through the issues thoroughly in order to provide the best advice to the client.’

‘I valued Savita Sharma immensely, she encouraged me to stay strong during a very heartbreaking and difficult divorce. Savita was very clear and upfront with me keeping me informed all the way; also, she showed great compassion towards me and great understanding.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for the pursuer in high-value, extremely complex Court of Session financial provision, involving multiple business structures, and expert accounting evidence.
  • Acted for respondent in Hague Convention child abduction proceedings involving Italy and Scotland, involving the ‘consent’ defence, which the firm defended successfully at first instance and on appeal.
  • Acted for multiple individuals living in Scotland who had been served with English divorce/financial remedy proceedings, advising them on jurisdiction and ensuring that jurisdiction in Scotland was secured where appropriate.

Aberdein Considine

Aberdein Considine’s family law team is headed up by Ruth Aberdein, whose particular expertise lies in high value separation and divorce cases, as well as in drafting pre-nuptial agreements for individuals with significant assets at stake. The firm is experienced in complex child cases, concerning child abduction, residency and contact arrangements, and allegations by one or both parties of abusive behaviour towards the children or spouse. Karl Brown is well-versed in such cases, while Leonie Burke, who joined from Brodies LLP in late 2019, is adept at handling financial provision arrangements where forensic accountancy has been required. April Campbell serves clients in the west central belt of Scotland, heading up the Glasgow team, while Isabelle Douglas is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Ruth Aberdein


‘I have been impressed with their knowledge, diligence and responsiveness.’

‘Over the course of my interaction with Aberdein Considine I met regularly with the lawyers from the practice. Within a practice covering all aspects of law, I was provided with a specialist solicitor in family law who took the time to understand my case and at every stage, provided me with clear feedback and guidance on taking my case forward to a successful conclusion. The key thing for me was that I was confident that I had top quality advice in my corner throughout the process.’

‘Leonie Burke is a quality family lawyer. She is direct and knowledgeable. She is very experienced and gives good advice to her clients.  She is thorough and able to grasp and retain a significant amount of detail.’

‘April Campbell and Megan Hannah have been quite simply outstanding in their professionalism. I found myself in one of the most vulnerable and unsettling times of my life to date. April and Megan where with me every step of the legal case- they listened, advised and always gave me the confidence in explaining the legal aspects of my file. April and Megan always had the law and the best interests of my son at the very core of all of their work.’

‘April Campbell has been wonderful. I have full confidence in her handling of my divorce as she is consummately professional and knowledgeable but also has a great ‘bedside’ manner – she is a supportive and a pleasure to deal with, which is important to me during my complicated and difficult divorce.’

Anderson Strathern

Within the sphere of divorces and separations, Anderson Strathern provides advice on financial provision, pre- and post- nuptial agreements, contact and residence disagreements (both within the UK and internationally), and the rights of formerly cohabiting partners. Outside of separations, the firm has experience of seeking permanence orders on behalf of councils, where a child’s welfare has been an area of concern. Based in Glasgow, the highly regarded Janice Jones leads the practice. She is an experienced litigator, with a strong track record of achieving favourable outcomes in acrimonious separations. Associate Danielle Edgar is the key contact for family law in the firm’s Edinburgh office.

Practice head(s):

Janice Jones

Other key lawyers:

Danielle Edgar


‘Thorough knowledge of family law and litigation; very proactive; willing to give advice where the client will not like it but needs to be told it.’

‘Janice Jones gives very clear advice and is very realistic.’

‘Janice Jones provides clear and direct advice to clients. She also gives her clients the confidence that she will fight their corner.’

‘Janice Jones understands how to support parents who are going through the stressful process of court action, while also being clear about what they should expect and what they should do to seek a resolution.’

Blackadders LLP

Blackadders LLP regularly helps its clients to resolve issues of financial provision, asset division, and child residence and contact in the event of divorce or separation through mediation, collaborative practice, and other firms of alternative dispute resolution. The firm has worked on a number of cases concerning attempts by one parent to relocate within Scotland or the UK in such a way to distances that would make contact difficult. Craig Samson, who leads the team out of Dundee, has a track record of work on financial claims for both pursuers and defenders. In Aberdeen, Gareth Masson handles civil court matters concerning children, including those relating to adoption and permanency orders. Associate Joanne Murray has advised on cross-border disputes.

Practice head(s):

Craig Samson

Other key lawyers:

Gareth Masson; Joanne Murray


‘The team operates in a number of different Scottish towns and cities and as a result can offer the benefits of being local and (in particular) having an Edinburgh team capable of managing actions in the Court of Session. There is a depth of personnel available to cover the work.’

‘Gareth Masson is efficient, effective and unfazed by difficult litigation. ‘

Gilson Gray

Gilson Gray’s family law practice was set up in 2017 by Philippa Cunniff - former head of family at HBJ Gateley - and Sally Nash , who was promoted to partner in 2019. The firm has built up significant experience in handling high value divorce cases involving significant, multimillion-pound capital claims. The practice also handles child custody and residency arrangements. Legal director Denise Laverty, who joined from BTO Solicitors LLP in 2019, is another name to note, while the firm can also now draw on the considerable expertise of former Turcan Connell practice head Alasdair Loudon, who joined as a consultant in late 2019.

Practice head(s):

Philippa Cunniff

Other key lawyers:

Sally Nash; Denise Laverty


‘Gilson Gray has built up an extremely effective family law team which has quickly become one of the market leaders.’

‘The team at Gilson Gray clearly know what they are doing in the area in which they practice.’

‘Philippa Cunniff is very experienced – she has an excellent manner with clients, is sympathetic and is also able to give clear advice.’

‘Sally Nash is a very effective solicitor – she has particular experience in cross border cases and with pre-nuptial agreements. Her attention to detail and clear advice is greatly appreciated by clients.’

‘Philippa Cunniff is a good family lawyer and she has a good quality client base. She understands the relevant legal provisions to a high level and is able to apply strategic thought in how she deals with her clients’ cases.’

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP's 'forward-thinking team' has specialist knowledge in financial provision arrangements where settlement has been complicated by insolvency, assets held in shares and trusts, and foreign assets. The firm also has experience in cross-border child relocation and abduction cases, and has achieved favourable outcomes for their clients in residency and contact orders involving suspected abuse. In addition to advising on custody and financial separation agreements in divorces, practice head Amanda Masson has significant experience in fertility law, encompassing the law governing the use of frozen embryos, surrogacy, and assisted reproduction. Jenny Smith focuses on financial matters, with experience in drafting cohabitation agreements, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and complex asset separation. Alexis Harper provides expertise on business valuations as it pertains to financial provision, while Karen Gibbons handles child welfare and mediation. Associates Nadine Martin and Rachael MacDonald are names to note.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Masson


‘Personalised and professional. Speedy service – we were kept up to date all along and the firm was always available to assist.’

‘Harper Macleod are, in my view, a growing force in the family law sector in Scotland.’

‘Harper Macleod have a strong team of family lawyers. They cover all of the disciplines within the area. They are among the top handful of family law firms in the country. ‘

‘Harper Macleod have a number of offices throughout Scotland and this allows them to provide specialist family law advice in some more rural areas as well as from their main office in Glasgow. A really forward-thinking team, keen to engage at the cutting edge of family law and to make a distinctive and positive contribution.’

‘Karen Gibbons always kept in touch. Approachable. Professional. Knowledgeable. Sincere.’

‘Jenny Smith brings a careful and considered approach, which has been effective in bringing about a good outcome in the cases in which I have acted on her instructions.’

‘Karen Gibbons is a dynamic lawyer who has a real attention to detail and an extensive knowledge of the law in terms of theory and practice.’

‘Amanda Masson is a highly experienced lawyer who cares about the outcome for her clients.’

‘Amanda Masson is a vastly experienced family lawyer. I have found her to be pragmatic, sensible and results-orientated.’

‘Alexis Harper is a highly conscientious and able family lawyer. She is a technically excellent lawyer. She is able to operate well under pressure.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for the husband in a case in which the issue of financial provision was complicated. The matrimonial property had an estimated value of £1m.
  • Acted for the defender in an action of divorce, financial provision, exclusion order and interdict. The financial aspects were novel and complex, partly because the pursuer’s agent sought a confidentiality order which was subsequently deemed incompetent.
  • Acted for a same-sex cohabitee who had subsequently entered a civil partnership with her partner. The value of the partnership property was over £2m. The case settled by negotiation.

MTM Family Law

The 'exceptional' Shona Templeton and Carolyn MacBride - who 'exudes authority' head up the family law practice at MTM Family Law, based in Glasgow. The firm has a record of work on divorces and separation agreements where matrimonial assets are based outside the UK, and also have broad experience in handling childcare, residency, and contact arrangements regarding the children of couples both formerly married and formerly cohabiting. The firm have also advised on surrogacy law, and in 2019 notably made a comparative assessment of Scottish and English parental rights law on behalf of clients.


MTM are a boutique firm of specialist family lawyers based in Glasgow; they are all very experienced and highly regarded family lawyers. They have a very strong reputation, particularly in the West of Scotland.

‘The attraction of MTM Family Law for me was the fact that the partners are all women and that they of course specialise in family law. In addition, it’s not a huge corporate firm and makes no pretensions of grandiosity or poshness. Yet the quality, professionalism and range of services within the parameters of their speciality are in my experience equal to or may even exceed those of more well-known names in the profession.’

‘This firm has been exceptional from the outset in dealing with my case at a very challenging time in my personal life. All the staff has been professional, efficient and inspired confidence at all times. The interactions from the team were coordinated seamlessly with thoughtful provision of alternate contact available at all times, ensuring rapid response and actions without fail especially for time sensitive situations. The clients’ pressing issues were always handled with care and empathy. The strengths of the firm include teams’ vast experience in the field of collaboration, arbitration, and litigation. I would highly recommend this firm for anyone looking for a dedicated team that would work tirelessly for your cause.’

‘MTM is a friendly and approachable firm. All staff are warmly courteous and helpful. As a client, I felt supported and valued. The offices are comfortable with appropriate facilities for clients seeking family law services. The team members are professional but also down to earth which engenders trust, confidence and appreciation.’

‘Carolyn MacBride is a very experienced family lawyer. She has an exceptionally sound grasp of the law.’

‘Shona Templeton – easy to deal with, relaxed but firm approach. Able to provide all forms of dispute resolution. Organised and committed.’

‘Carolyn MacBride – a formidable opponent, tenacious on behalf of her clients, but able to step back and remain objective in her advice. Thorough in her preparation and very charming to deal with.’

‘Shona Templeton comes across as a very genuine and caring individual with her clients’ best interests at heart. She is a good listener, taking clients concerns and feelings into consideration when providing honest and appropriate advice tailored to individuals specific needs.’

‘Carolyn MacBride exuded authority and experience of her field, which was what I had been looking for. She was brisk, methodical and all work was always finished on time. Her advice was clear and to the point and succinctly explained when required; her modus operandi was never prescriptive but collaborative.’

‘Shona Templeton is an exceptional lawyer who has been an unwavering strength and source of confidence in face of adversity. She is especially sound in her knowledge of the family law and is an accomplished lawyer with a solid track record of successful career in collaborative law. It was clear that this was her vocation. She is dedicated to the clients, compassionate for their plight and has a solid work ethic. She has ethical integrity, intellectual finesse and vast experience. She is affable, approachable and warm.’

Thorntons Law LLP

The 'strong family team' at Thorntons Law LLP has extensive experience in handling high value divorces and separations, with proven expertise in negotiating financial provision arrangements in cases where assets are found in the form of pension contributions and funds, shares, and part-ownerships of companies and trusts. Concerning child law, the firm has advised adoptive parents on international adoptions, and acted on residency and contact arrangements for children of divorcing married couples and separating cohabiting couples. The firm has advised on several aspects of cohabitation law, including on inheritance matters where one partner has died without a will. Sandra Sutherland, based in Arbroath, focuses on child law and mediation. Amanda Wilson in Dundee is experienced in surrogacy, divorce, and cohabitation disputes. Well-regarded associate Angela Wipat is another key names to note. During 2019 the team was boosted by the arrival of consultant Alasdair Docwra, who joined as part of the firm's acquisition of Morisons, and director Lucy Metcalf, who joined from Lindsays.

Practice head(s):

Sandra Sutherland


‘An excellent team from receptionists through to senior partners.’

‘A strong family team with a depth and breadth of knowledge.’

‘I was involved in a complex divorce. Thorntons gave me very sound advice from the beginning and were able to tailor that advice as the process of the divorce unfolded acting quickly when that was necessary. I was able to contact my solicitor at very short notice and discuss issues and potential solutions. The advice received was invariably measured and objective.’

‘Angela Wipat was incredibly knowledgeable and helpful and understood the complexity of dealing with a case which involved domestic abuse. She was professional and calm and always gave sound advice.’

‘Jenny Broach is dedicated and motivated for her clients. She has an easy manner, which clients respond well to.’

‘Amanda Wilson and Sandra Sutherland are first class in every way. I have felt supported throughout the difficult process of my divorce.’

‘My solicitor for my divorce was Angela Wipat and I would highly recommend her to anyone in similar circumstances to my own. She was calm, objective and early on agreed a ‘game plan’ with myself. She was very responsive to queries and requests for action. She was also a very good communicator on the phone and in writing.’


BLM's Scottish practice advises on a range of family law matters, covering complex financial provision and child contact and residency arrangements resulting from divorce. Practice head Caroline Gillespie has advised on a number of cross-border financial provision and contact cases, with a strong track record of defending and opposing the validity of foreign judgements. Assistant solicitor Nicola Buchanan is another key contact in the practice, with experience of handling sensitive child welfare cases.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Gillespie

Other key lawyers:

Nichola Buchanan


‘The people throughout the firm demonstrate sensitivity to their clients’ situation and needs and are responsive in a professional and pragmatic manner.’

‘Caroline Gillespie is a very professional individual – she has the the manners of cardiac surgeon! She is engaging and precise; it has been my pleasure to find such an individual to take care of our legal issues.’

‘I have been highly impressed by Caroline Gillespie. She instils complete confidence in her clients through her manner and abilities. Caroline is personable and displays good judgement through her knowledge, awareness and attention to detail.’

‘Nicola Buchanan provides clarity and reassurance to her clients and works with purpose to consistently deliver results and achieve best outcomes for clients.’

Gibson Kerr

The family practice at Gibson Kerr is led by Fiona Rasmusen, who is well-regarded for her knowledge of pre-nuptial agreements, negotiated settlements and business interests. The firm aims to provide a more cost-effective and personal service than its larger competitors, and is praised for 'punching above its weight' in the Edinburgh market. The family team work closely with the wider firm's private client and property lawyers to provide a more rounded service.

Practice head(s):

Fiona Rasmusen


‘A very good private client and family firm in Edinburgh, with a growing reputation. The firm ‘punches above its weight’ in the Edinburgh market.

‘Gibson Kerr offer specialist family law advice in a sensible, practical manner.’

‘Fiona Rasmusen is efficient, thoughtful and knows the technicalities of the law in her field.’

‘Fiona Rasmusen is the outstanding lawyer in the practice, with a super reputation in family law. Fiona has a UK-wide and an international client base.’

Work highlights

  • Advised on a cross-jurisdictional child contact case that spanned different continents, involving issues relating to a child with complex health and social needs.
  • Advised on abduction and action for interdict, delivery and residence – followed by negotiation of contact between child and father.
  • Advised on Claim under Section 28 of the Family Law Act (Scotland) 2006; successfully defending a client in a cohabitation case against a six-figure claim relating to property following a relationship break up.

Patience and Buchan

Patience and Buchan is a specialist family law firm based in Aberdeen, led by 'empathetic and caring' senior partner Lorna Buchan, who receives plaudits for her client care and personal approach. She works in tandem with Ashley Simpson, who is 'is well known for her involvement in child-related actions.' Both are accredited specialists in family law. The firm prides itself on its commitment to alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration, mediation and collaboration.

Practice head(s):

Lorna Buchan; Ashley Simpson

Other key lawyers:

Gillian Smith


‘My experience of using this firm for my divorce was an excellent choice. The whole team were very professional. I was hugely appreciative for Lorna Buchan’s overall dealing with my case from start to finish. My divorce was not straightforward but she supported me both with excellent legal advice and empathy. She cared about the whole situation.’

‘A highly effective niche practice specialising in family law.  They are knowledgeable, accessible and responsive.’

‘The firm is small and friendly. They are very professional and discreet. As a client, I had great confidence in the advice and support that I received. It was pragmatic and, I believe based on an exceptionally sound and thorough knowledge of the law in this field.’

‘I felt that, from the start, the service was very professional but also very personal. I was kept regularly up to date with the developments in my case and my solicitor Lorna Buchan was always very approachable and very helpful. All of the staff at Patience & Buchan that I dealt with throughout my case were friendly, helpful and professional. They always made you feel relaxed and at ease which, when you’re dealing with a stressful legal case, was very much appreciated.’

‘Lorna Buchan was a huge help to me in a very difficult divorce. She took on board everything I said. She listened and understood and worked tirelessly to obtain the best outcome for me. I appreciated her legal knowledge but perhaps just as importantly her her very empathetic approach and caring nature.’

‘Ashley Simpson is very experienced in this area. She is well known for her involvement in child-related actions. In her dealings with clients she is considered, sensitive, and engaging. She has a great technical knowledge of the law and is a problem solver’.

‘Gillian Smith is a dynamic and proactive litigator. She has an excellent grasp of the law and is persuasive in her advocacy. Her case preparation is thorough and diligent.’

‘Lorna Buchan is a consummate professional who is, in my opinion extremely knowledgeable in her field of expertise. She provided me with excellent legal advice and support. I was so pleased to have Lorna working on my behalf as she was very pragmatic and conscious of keeping down costs so that meetings were only scheduled when there was actually something relevant to discuss. Lorna helped to make a very difficult and upsetting period a lot less stressful and I always felt that she had my best interests at heart.’

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP

In July 2019, Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP completed the acquisition of the family law practice of Digby Brown LLP, a deal which saw Roger Mackenzie and senior solicitor Emma Letham joining as a result. The duo are well-regarded for their expertise in adoption law. The 'thoughtful and dynamic' practice is led by the hugely experienced Tom Quail, a trained mediator and solicitor-advocate, who regularly handles matters relating to complex financial issues with an 'unparalleled attention to detail.'

Practice head(s):

Tom Quail


‘Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP is the most thoughtful, dynamic, professional and courteous legal firm I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with – their client courtesy and understanding went way beyond anything experienced elsewhere.’

‘The team at WJM are highly experienced and their position as local experts make them a “go-to” firm for family law.’

‘Roger Mackenzie and Emma Letham have established a niche practice, principally in adoption law. They are very client-attractive.  Both have encyclopaedic knowledge of this field.’

‘Tom Quail has provided and continues to provide me with excellent advice in what is a complex situation.’

‘Tom Quail’s attention to detail is unparalleled. His knowledge of the facts in all of his cases, and those being handled by his assistants, is exhaustive. His attention to detail is consummate and his knowledge and understanding of the statutory regimes, rules of procedure and case law is complete.’

‘Roger Mackenzie is an absolutely superb family lawyer. He recently worked on a very complicated divorce case and his empathy, professionalism and knowledge were extremely impressive. Roger is highly adept at dealing with delicate situations and his clarity of though and tactical nous are clear strengths.’

‘Emma Letham has a strikingly good approach with clients, providing realistic encouragement at all stages of the adoption process.’

Scullion LAW

The key contact for family matters in Scullion LAW's Glasgow office is Judith Higson, who was recently promoted to executive director. She is an accredited specialist in family law and child law, and is also an accredited family law mediator, a particular area of growth for the firm. She has more than a decade's experience advising on separations, divorce and child law cases, often with an international element.

Practice head(s):

Judith Higson