Located in Kingston upon Thames, the ‘very strong’ team at Adler Family Law Solicitors LLP offers ‘real quality and strength in depth’ on international matters, particularly in relation to matrimonial and finance work for high-net-worth families and individuals. Equally strong is the firm’s ability to act in children-related matters including disputes, residence and contact issues, and child abductions. ‘Experienced and skilful family lawyer’ Charlotte Adler leads the team and is a ‘great negotiator’ with ‘unrivalled knowledge of the law’; she focuses on high-value divorce and financial claims, complex children disputes and the preparation of pre-marital, cohabitation and civil partnership agreements. As an expert in cross-jurisdictional disputes relating to matrimonial finance matters and pre and post-nuptial agreements, Conrad Adam is an experienced mediator and ‘brilliant to work with’. Also of note is Sophia Raja, who has significant knowledge of children and domestic abuse matters.
Family: Kent, Surrey, Sussex in South East
Adler Family Law Solicitors LLP
Other key lawyers:
Conrad Adam; Sophia Raja
‘Adler Family Law have managed to retain their high-class workforce. All of their solicitors are first rate and always deliver a high service to their clients.’
‘Adler Family Law provides a Central London top-tier firm service but with the benefit of local knowledge and experience. There is no other firm in the area which manages to attract the same standard of work.’
‘This is very solid high street firm in Kingston upon Thames. Charlotte Adler and Sophia Raja provide superb services that rival the more central ’boutique’ firms that are far more expensive and litigious. This is a very good specialist family law firm. This is a dedicated and highly regarded smaller firm that should be noticed.’
In Guildford, full-service firm Charles Russell Speechlys LLP is noted by clients as fielding ‘one of the best regional family law departments in the country’. Its client roster features national and international high-profile and high-net-worth clients that need advisory and dispute resolution assistance with complicated matters relating to children such as relocation, child protection and adoption work, financial assets including offshore trusts and significant pensions, and unmarried family agreements. The ‘commercially astute’ Shona Alexander has a broad practice with substantial experience in financial cases, pre and post-marital agreements and cohabitation issues. Co-heading the team with Alexander is the ‘unflappable’ Karen Wilsher, who specialises in high-value financial cases and child law cases in relation to families with addiction difficulties. William Rollin offers extensive experience in matrimonial finance and private law children matters including international relocation and parental alienation cases.
Shona Alexander; Karen Wilsher
Other key lawyers:
William Rollin; Claire Devine; Rebecca Arnold; Nicholas Bass; Felicity Chapman
‘One of the best regional family law departments in the country.’
‘Shona Alexander is a very impressive lawyer and leader. She has an incisive legal mind and her clients, rightly, adore her. Rebecca Arnold is also a superb associate who is a rising star.’
‘Karen Wilsher is a class act, an unflappable and great technical lawyer but also pragmatic. Claire Devine has a great manner with clients, an eye for detail and excellent judgement. Nick Bass is outstanding and a future star. He offers mastery of the facts and figures in a case and tactical and sound instinct.’
‘An extremely well-known firm that is a leader in the field of matrimonial finance. The Surrey and Sussex practice delivers top level representation but provided locally and without charging central London prices.’
‘Felicity Chapman is excellent, unflappable and pragmatic. She is sensible, measured but also friendly and approachable.’
‘Shona Alexander is a fantastic lawyer. She is commercially astute and will go the extra mile for her clients. She is incredibly collaborative which means her clients get results. She is proactive and will always try and resolve matters before resorting to litigation. She is also an excellent mediator.’
‘They have great family team who are well known for dealing with high net worth and complex financial matters. The team stand out against competitors for their expertise with high value matrimonial work whilst offering an excellent service.’
‘Karen Wilsher is utterly dedicated to her job. She has excellent client care skills and is always keen to ensure that the client has an opportunity to voice their concerns about their case. She has an innate sense of anticipating the other side’s next move so is always one step ahead. Claire Devine is very much a partner in the making. She is always clear in highlighting what the client’s objectives are in a case. Nick Bass is definitely one to watch. He has great care to detail and is very responsive to client’s needs.’
The ‘well-established’ practice at Cripps in Tunbridge Wells is ‘one of the best’, with ‘a practical and approachable team’ that seeks ‘constructive solutions’. The family team has a reputation for acting in financial remedy cases and children and cohabitee disputes which involve high-value assets and international issues, and is regularly instructed on financial proceedings under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989. Collaborating with the private wealth, property and corporate teams, the group has alternative dispute resolution options and acts for clients from a range of backgrounds including politicians, businessmen and celebrities. Team head Alex Davies, who is noted as a ‘brilliant lawyer, a great communicator and an excellent strategic mind’, advises ultra and high-net-worth clients on nuptial and cohabitation agreements. The highly praised Vanda James is ‘constructive in matrimonial matters’ and financial cases, particularly those involving multi-jurisdictional elements. Another key lawyer to note is the ‘superb’ Helen Fisher.
Other key lawyers:
Vanda James; Helen Fisher; Camilla Hooper; Nick Gova
‘A great team with a very good range of expertise and all lawyers are able to assist each other. Alex Davies, Camilla Hooper and Vanda James are outstanding. We can trust them implicitly and know that they will fight hard for our case.’
‘The team is approachable and professional and seek to offer constructive solutions. Vanda James and Nick Gova are particularly constructive in matrimonial matters.’
‘Alex Davies is a brilliant lawyer, a great communicator and an excellent strategic mind. Helen Fisher is another brilliant lawyer who brings a careful and measured eye to a case, looking out for strengths and weaknesses and ensuring the client is aware of any potential pitfalls early on. Nick Gova is a great lawyer who works incredibly closely with clients and provides a first-class service. Vanda James is a great lawyer All the lawyers I work with at Cripps are incredibly hard-working and do their utmost to get the best outcome for the client while keeping the temperature down if at all possible.’
‘Cripps are a very approachable friendly firm while being incredibly professional and you can see they work tirelessly for the client.’
‘A practical and approachable team with very good response times that genuinely had my best interests at heart.’
‘The team at Cripps has strength in depth. The team works closely together and there is a huge knowledge and experience base from which to draw. In my opinion the Cripps family team is one of the best. From the top partners to the most junior solicitors, they know their stuff.’
‘Alex Davies is empathetic and yet objective and clearly an expert in his field. I feel really confident in his advice and judgement. He’s always quick to respond and understands the stresses clients experience dealing with family law matters. He handles difficult issues adeptly and quickly gets to the heart of an issue. Vanda James is responsive and easy to deal with and her advice is clear and focused. An excellent family law team who have advised on complex matters.’
‘Helen Fisher did a superb job. She is approachable, available and her advice always focused on enabling me to achieve a cost effective and sensible outcome. She listened to my viewpoints and didn’t seek to drag the matter out or incur costs which weren’t necessary. She is also very easy to communicate with.’
- Acting on behalf of a client to prepare a prenuptial agreement to protect a substantial inheritance in excess of £22m, including a number of trust interests.
- Acting for a regional vice president of a global company in relation to a divorce and financial provision which involved the division of assets of multi millions of pounds and income in excess of £1m per year.
- Acting for one of the parents in a dispute regarding arrangements for children. The case involved allegations of harm to children, parental alienation and concurrent criminal proceedings against the backdrop of mental health difficulties within the family.
The ‘first-rate family boutique practice’ at ‘forward-thinking, fast-acting, client-focused firm’ Family Law Partners spans Brighton and Horsham and achieves the ‘best possible results’. Having launched its Agreeable model, a service for divorcing and separating couples, in April 2022, and embedding an in-house family therapist in its offering, the practice is led by a trio of lawyers including managing director and collaborative lawyer and arbitrator Robert Williams, who specialises in finance-related matters after relationship breakdown. Also co-heading the team is the ‘truly stellar’ Kate Elliott, who is a Resolution trained mediator and undertakes a range of family matters relating to private children work, high-net-worth individuals, nuptial agreements, domestic violence and addiction issues, and Lisa Burton-Durham, who is ‘bright, personable and a pleasure to work with’ and offers expertise in spousal maintenance work, property portfolios, cohabitee disputes and TOLATA issues, as well as private children matters such as coercive control and parental alienation mandates. Collaborative lawyer Christopher Maulkin deals with financial issues and family matters involving unmarried couples. Also noted is ‘approachable and friendly solicitor’ Gemma Hope.
Robert Williams; Lisa Burton-Durham; Kate Elliott
Other key lawyers:
Christopher Maulkin; Gemma Hope; Rachel Nicholl; Hannah Viet; Hannah Gumbrill-Ward; Eleanor Pollard; Polly Dallyn
‘Family Law Partners provides a service that is second to none. They are a forward-thinking, fast-acting, client-focused firm. Whilst they have a strong focus on collaborative law and mediation, they do not shy away from complex, interesting and difficult cases.’
‘Lisa Burton-Durham is bright, personable and a pleasure to work with. Hannah Gumbrill-Ward is a level-headed and hardworking solicitor with excellent judgment. Rachel Nicholl is a tenacious solicitor who is forensic in her approach to cases. Gemma Hope is an approachable and friendly solicitor who works tirelessly for her clients. Eleanor Pollard is determined and hardworking.’
‘Kate Elliott and Lisa Burton-Durham are stand out individuals who go the extra mile. They are astute, incisive and committed. I cannot recommend them more highly as a team and in general. This firm is progressive and forward thinking. Committed to family justice.’
‘Simply the best. Very focused on achieving the best possible result for the client by whatever means – be that negotiation, mediation, collaboration or litigation.’
‘Kate Elliott is truly stellar. She is endlessly patient and compassionate. She is able to deliver time and time again in complex children work and those involving family finances. She is always on top of her game. She is very bright, has great attention to detail and leaves no stone unturned. She is able to achieve fantastic outcomes for clients, whether in court or out. Her skill, energy and hard work is unparalleled. She is someone you would always want on your side. Polly Dallyn is phenomenally hard working and intelligent. Polly brings clarity to the most complicated cases. She is working at a level beyond her qualification years. Her attention to detail often makes all the difference to the outcome of client’s cases. Gemma Hope is a very clever lawyer who is dedicated to her clients and works hard to achieve positive outcomes for them.’
‘First-rate family boutique practice going from strength to strength. Solution focused, working to support the whole family.’
‘Robert Williams is an opponent who garners respect. He is clever, innovative and skilled in a range of ADR.’
‘A hugely impressive firm, committed to achieving the very best for their clients both in and out of court. They have some brilliant lawyers, who really get to the heart of a client’s case. They manage to achieve an excellent balance between compassion and tenacity. They have a full-time family therapist and coach, to holistically assist their clients with being able to exit their relationship on a positive footing. They are true all-rounders.’
In Beckenham and Chislehurst, the ‘market leading’, ‘organised and efficient’ practice at Jones Nickolds regularly acts in cases up to Court of Appeal level regarding the full spectrum of family law issues including divorce, financial remedy and private children matters. Acting for high-net-worth clients and well versed in arbitration and alternative dispute resolution methods including mediation and collaborative law, the team is led by the ‘highly experienced and astute’ Lisa Jones, who has a reputation for her work in wide-ranging matrimonial finance cases as well as international divorce, cohabitation and private law children work. Also leading the team with Jones is ‘outstanding legal mind’ and ‘supremely confident and learned practitioner’ Claire Nickolds, who is a member of Resolution and has significant expertise in a range of family law matters including financial disputes and private law children matters such as applications for leave to remove from the jurisdiction. Also of note is Gemma Irving, who is ‘first class’ and ‘simply excellent’ and focuses on financial provisions on divorce and arrangements relating to children, while Rachel Woodd is a 'standout mediator'.
Lisa Jones; Claire Nickolds
Other key lawyers:
Gemma Irving; Rachel Woodd; Alexandra Gray; Georgia Wright; Mai Ling Ho; Laura Smail; Amy Stone
‘I used Jones Nickolds for a lengthy and protracted case. They were absolutely fantastic from the first meeting I had with them. Each individual I dealt with throughout the firm was nothing short of brilliant. I got the feeling that as a firm they are small enough to care about you and your case but have the expertise, knowledge and individuals in place to take on a case of any size or complexity.’
‘They are an organised and efficient firm who deal with a range of issues for their clients in a cost effective but high quality way.’
‘Jones Nickolds is a market leading niche firm which enjoys a stellar and richly deserved reputation. They are best known for providing a central London service in Kent at competitive rates. They enjoy a superb reputation for mediation work in conjunction with more traditional litigation and dispute resolution work.’
‘Lisa Jones is a highly experienced and astute performer who is not afraid to tell it how it is when necessary but still has the most soothing of bedside manners. Clients always know she is on their side. Claire Nickolds is tireless and uncompromising in pursuit of her client’s interest. She never gives up but has the judgement to deliver bad news when needed. Gemma Irving is a daunting opponent who knows her stuff. She goes the extra mile for every client.’
‘Claire Nickolds has an outstanding legal mind and the ability to cut straight to the matter at hand. From our first meeting, I had complete confidence in her ability to get me the best possible result and I appreciated her perfect mix of commercial savviness and compassion in what was an extremely difficult period of time. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her.’
‘Claire Nickolds is a supremely confident and learned practitioner. She has a wealth of experience and utilises that knowledge to achieve the optimal results for her clients.’
‘Rachel Woodd is a standout mediator. She combines intellect and outstanding emotional intelligence to achieve mediated solutions in even the most difficult cases. A star of the mediation world. Claire Nickolds is a force to be reckoned with, whilst being personable and a pleasure to deal with.’
‘Gemma Irving is a solicitor with empathy, sympathy, expert knowledge and a brilliant manner. She was honest and fair, yet firm when the occasion called for it. Gemma Irving and Georgia Wright were nothing short of first class. Her and the team were simply excellent.’
Operating across Richmond, Woking and Guildford, the ‘go-to family team’ at Moore Barlow offers ‘excellent client service’ and is well known for advising regional, London and international high-net-worth professionals and individuals on a range of matters including child arrangement orders, cohabitation agreements, financial remedies and, increasingly, international pre and post-nuptial agreements. The practice also offers non-court dispute resolution expertise with mediators and collaboratively trained lawyers, as well as a niche surrogacy team. ‘Level-headed, diligent and constructive’ practice head Joanna Farrands is a ‘brilliant lawyer’ who leads the children team, focusing on parental alienation and high-net-worth financial remedy work. Praised as the ‘doyen of family law’, collaboratively trained lawyer Judith Ball has substantial experience in complex and international matters relating to the start of relationships as well as relationship breakdowns. Jan Galloway is ‘extremely experienced’ in a range of matters and has trained with Resolution, and FMA trained mediator Victoria Walker, who specialises in financial remedy work, is a ‘highly skilled specialist family lawyer’. Qualified collaborative lawyer and co-chair of the Surrey Pod Mandy Spring is another key lawyer.
Other key lawyers:
Judith Ball; Jan Galloway; Victoria Walker; Mandy Spring; Beverley Cullis; Erin Lyon
‘Moore Barlow are the go-to family team in the area, offering strength in depth. They work collaboratively with each other on cases and ensure that cases are appropriately allocated in accordance with their complexity. The firm is capable of dealing with HNW cases involving complex financial structures, including trust and companies here and abroad. Having other departments with in-house expertise in relation to trusts, companies, wills and other private wealth services enhances the service they provide to clients.’
‘I can recommend Judith Ball as the doyen of family law in this area. She is irreproachable and a joy to work with. Personable and great with clients and opponents alike. Joanna Farrands is level-headed, diligent and constructive in what is a case fraught with emotions. Mandy Spring is highly experienced, hard-working and gives sensible and constructive advice to her clients. She can be tough with opponents when necessary and is always well-prepared. Beverley Cullis is very experienced and great to work with. Erin Lyon often supports Judith and Joanna on HNW and complex cases as well as running her own caseload. She is a superstar and nothing is too much trouble for her. Erin is clever and very able and her client-care skills are first-rate.’
‘They are a friendly and hardworking team. They are well organised and keep the clients at the forefront of their minds.’
‘Joanna Farrands is pleasant and client-focused. She works hard with her team to be efficient. Her knowledge is good.’
‘Jan Galloway is an extremely experienced private client lawyer. She is confident, clear, concise, and detail oriented. An expert in high value cases, she takes a solution-based approach. Victoria Walker is also a highly skilled specialist family lawyer. She is a mediator and is both practical and collaborative in her approach. Both of these individuals are excellent lawyers, personable, and hard working. I highly recommend them both.’
‘The team are all very approachable, they offer excellent client service. They provide client’s with realistic and pragmatic advice. They manage their client’s expectations. It is great having them on the other side as they are easy to work with and want to achieve what is best for the clients and their family.’
‘Jo Farrands is a brilliant lawyer and fights her client’s corner. Mandy Spring is an excellent lawyer that provides realistic advice to clients and manages their expectations. Jan Galloway really fights her client’s case. She is firm but pragmatic. Karen Barham is an amazing mediator.’
With a ‘strong local and international reputation’ and offering a multi-disciplinary practice to clients which include high-net-worth individuals and parents, Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is well versed in international work relating to the Children Act 1989 and surrogacy law. The ‘incredibly talented’ Guildford-based team offers a ‘unique and exceptional service’ and is led by the ‘experienced, conscientious and pragmatic’ Veronica Gilmour, who leads the firm’s alternative dispute resolution offering as a mediator and represents clients in complex divorce and separation matters and private law children’s disputes. Rachel Donald is an ‘excellent lawyer’ and prominent in matters relating to nuptial and cohabitation agreements. Laura Naser offers experience in handling nuptial agreement advice, Children Act cases, domestic abuse issues, financial claims and property ownership disputes between cohabitees. Previously at Mishcon de Reya LLP, Emma Willing is a ‘superb new addition to the team’ who has extensive international experience assisting entrepreneurs, family business owners, professionals and celebrities with financial issues relating to divorce, private children law matters, cohabitation disputes and modern family building including surrogacy and adoption. Surrogacy law expert Bethan Carr is another key lawyer.
Other key lawyers:
Rachel Donald; Emma Willing; Laura Naser; Sarah Duckworth; Bethan Carr; Laura Hughes; Bethan Bell; Arjun Sreedaran; Gemma Kemp
‘Veronica Gilmour is fantastic. She makes complex matters simply with a combination of brilliant legal knowledge and tactical acumen. Her bedside manner is second to none. She is always accessible and makes clients feel supported and at ease. Arjun Sreedaran is an associate of note within the team. He is friendly, approachable and compassionate. His cases are well-prepared and well-pitched. Beth Bell is extremely bright and very capable. She gives clear and firm advice and has superb judgment.’
‘Veronica Gilmour is a stellar lawyer and has brilliant leadership skills. Her team have the utmost respect for her and their brilliant working relationship shines through. Rachel Donald is very competent and delightful to work with, which makes settling cases easier for all parties.’
‘One of the leading teams in Surrey. Plenty of depth & strength in all areas of family law. Personable lawyers to deal with, with constructive solutions to cases. The team has grown and gone from strength to strength under Veronica Gilmour’s leadership.’
‘Rachel Donald is an excellent lawyer, pragmatic, issue focused and very good client care and interaction. She is very approachable with a very good associate Bethan Carr. Veronica Gilmour is calm, reassuring but has a firm eye on the detail. Sarah Duckworth has the ability to manage an increasingly anxious client whilst remaining sharply focused on the key issues in the case, being able to manage expectations and encourage clients to see the wood from the trees.’
‘Laura Hughes is an exceptional lawyer with a great attention to detail. Her calm and friendly manner is reassuring and puts clients at ease as they feel that they are in safe hands.’
‘Emma Willing is a superb addition to the team. She is a class act. Excellent commercial awareness. An oracle when it comes to anything related to surrogacy. Bethan Carr is one of the country’s leading modern family lawyers. Her knowledge of all international adoption and surrogacy is second to none. She is always able to find creative solutions. She operates at partner level.’
‘Veronica Gilmour is excellent, clever, experienced, conscientious and pragmatic, the perfect combination! Clients rightly trust her implicitly and it is reassuring that they will always have been given the right advice before the case reaches counsel. It is a pleasure to work with Veronica and I regularly recommend her.’
‘As a current client of Penningtons, I am incredibly impressed by the unique and exceptional service they provide. This practice stands out from other firms in their extensive expertise in family law, their incredibly talented team, and their unwavering commitment to their client’s needs. Potential clients can comfortably rely on their understanding of the complexities of family law and their ability to handle even the most challenging cases with professionalism and empathy.’
The family law practice at Stevens & Bolton LLP regularly advises individuals in the medical profession, hedge fund managers, accountants, property developers and lawyers on complex financial matters after relationship breakdown, pre-nuptial agreements as well as private law children proceedings. Situated in Guildford, the team collaborates with the tax and trusts team to offer assistance with generational financial planning work. Team leader and Resolution trained collaborative lawyer Nicola Harries specialises in pre-nuptial agreements for ultra and high-net-worth individuals. Promoted to partner in 2022, Grace Parker-White, also an accredited hybrid mediator, offers assistance with a range of matters including divorce and separation mandates, while managing associate Sean Hilton has particular expertise in advising on third-party interventions. Other key lawyers include Victoria Batstone, who handles international child matters including child abduction cases in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
Other key lawyers:
Grace Parker-White; Sean Hilton; Victoria Batstone
‘The family team are, to my mind, the best firm outside of London. They are much better than most the London firms too, but their USP should be that they can ably compete with the capital’s best family law solicitors whilst charging only a fraction of the price. They are a full-service law firm and so are able to offer cross-departmental advice on the same case. If my friends ask for a recommendation, I tell them to see Stevens & Bolton.’
‘Sean Hilton is an amazing lawyer with extensive knowledge and great insights in terms of how to handle cases and the people involved. When acting on their behalf. Sean stands out from the competition as he’s calm and composed uses those qualities to achieve the best result for his clients. I would recommend Sean to anyone needing a family lawyer at any level or complexity.’
‘The team is spearheaded by Nicola Harries, whom I have had the benefit of working with for years. She is highly astute and a very strategic lawyer. She predominantly works with HNW/ultra HNW clients, all of whom feel very comfortable in her hands. In short, she is ‘untrickable’ and has excellent judgement.’
‘Grace Parker-White and Sean Hilton – both of these stars could run firms in their own right.’
‘The family team is extremely professional, very knowledgeable and a pleasure to deal with. They are always helpful and available to address any questions and go about their business in the most professional and pleasant way.’
‘Sean Hilton and Victoria Batstone advise clients correctly from the very start of the matter. Their communications with the other side are always well drafted, concise and contain the appropriate level of detail and argument.’
Sean Hilton is very popular with clients, and clear and concise with this advice which is always accurate and correct on the law.’
‘Grace Parker-White was amazing during a very difficult divorce. She listened to my suggestions, talked me down when I was worried, and gave sane and very sound advice throughout.’
- Acted as a mediator for parties in a matter which involved complex international assets of approximately £7m, including a ski chalet.
- Successfully representing a fund manager seeking to remain at his country estate while also protecting his valuable future carry payments from being fully shared.
- Acting for the founding director of a multi-million pound company seeking to protect his business interests in divorce negotiations.
Thomson Snell & Passmore
The ‘helpful, friendly, forward thinking’ family department at Thomson Snell & Passmore, based in Tunbridge Wells, fields members of Resolution and continues to be involved in high-net-worth financial cases and complicated Children Act 1989 matters including maintenance and child arrangement orders. The team is headed up by highly experienced collaborative lawyer Joanna Pratt, who has dealt with financial cases, pre and post-nuptial agreements, and private law children proceedings. The ‘technically brilliant’ Kirstie Law specialises in divorce and dissolution of civil partnerships, parental responsibility and relocation of children, mediation and collaborative law among many other matters, and Anna Woodhoo can be relied on to ‘get a quick and fair outcome for clients’. Sarah Keily, who is a founder of Young Kent Resolution, collaborative lawyer Desmond O’Donnell and Harry Golding are also noted.
Other key lawyers:
Kirstie Law; Anna Woodhoo; Sarah Keily; Desmond O’Donnell; Harry Golding
‘I find the people I deal with are knowledgeable, wise and efficient.’
‘They are very helpful and friendly, forward thinking, excellent technically and always willing to learn. They are calm and focused and look for the best cost-effective solutions for their clients.’
‘Joanna Pratt has been dealing with a complex case for us recently and is helpful and friendly. Kirstie Law is technically brilliant with a very sharp mind and always willing and keen to learn more. Sarah Keily is helpful and friendly and a great organiser. She is also on the Kent Resolution Committee. Anna Woodhoo is a great networker and works well with other firms to get a quick and fair outcome for clients.’
Handling the ‘full range of family law work’, the ‘strong’ and ‘hardworking’ Woking-based team of solicitors at Blackfords LLP ‘delivers an excellent service’ for matters involving divorce and separation, civil partnership, financial agreements, domestic violence and adoption matters. With expertise in private and public law children cases and handling precedent setting cases, the practice is led by ‘excellent practitioner’ Nicola Chamberlain, who was described as ‘unfailing in getting the job done’; she has a broad practice covering family and matrimonial cases involving financial remedy elements, allegations of child abuse and parental alienation issues. Also of note are public law children work specialists Helen Worden, who demonstrates ‘dedication, tenacity’ and ‘thorough case preparation’, and the ‘simply excellent’ Kim Wintle, who regularly undertakes her own advocacy.
Other key lawyers:
Helen Worden; Kim Wintle; Linda Lusingu; Terri-anne Taylor; Alexandra Pruvost
‘I dealt with Nicola Chamberlain who was always professional but also offered a sense of humour. My initial consultation made me feel completely at ease and reassured me that I had someone on my side who would be able to keep me on the right path. Nicola had a sense of humour which helped a lot to get me through the process. Nicola always responded promptly to any queries I had and was very knowledgeable and professional when dealing with the other party. I got the outcome I wanted and needed thanks to Nicola’s work and attention to detail. I was able to rest assured that Nicola was unfailing in getting the job done.’
‘I would particularly single out Nicola Chamberlain as an excellent practitioner. She is a joy to work with and goes above and beyond the call of duty for her clients. I cannot commend her highly enough in terms of her representation of parents in what are difficult and stressful proceedings. She is determined and brings a great deal of experience and skill to her cases. The advice she gives clients is always spot on and she shows the most outstanding judgment.’
‘The team is really well organised, focused and efficient. They deliver an excellent service.’
‘Helen Worden’s dedication, tenacity, thorough case preparation and client care have been a hallmark of her leadership for years and this leadership sets the scene and culture which trainees ‘grow up’ in. Kim Wintle is simply excellent. She is energetic, dedicated, strategic and has excellent judgment. She never backs away from a fight worth fighting and never shies away from giving firm advice where it is needed to protect a client’s best interests. Terri-anne Taylor works like a Trojan, stands up for clients and prepares them during interim stages by giving firm realistic advice as to how to optimise their case strategy. Alexandra Pruvost is very much of the Blackford mould and brings her hard work and talent for strategic planning to all her cases.’
‘This is a firm which offers a ‘Rolls Royce’ service. Whether you consider the head of department, the current trainee or everyone in between, there is the same ethic of hard work, excellent legal knowledge, good judgment, realistic advice, and fierce representation. I have no hesitation in referring acquaintances to this team and this illustrates how highly I regard the strength and depth of the team.’
‘Blackfords LLP has an extremely dedicated, hard-working and client-focused family team. The team goes out of its way to support and advocate for its clients, who are often vulnerable. On the other hand, the team is able to recognise the reality of its clients’ situations and provide objective and pragmatic advice.’
‘Helen Worden is one of the best public law solicitors I have worked with. She always knows her cases inside out and demonstrates an exceptional analysis of the strengths and weaknesses in them. She is able to identify when a case requires a different approach and is prepared to give cases the time and thought that they require. Kim Wintle is an extremely busy practitioner who is, nonetheless, always on top of her cases. She is able to identify the salient points in a case and focus on realistic outcomes for her clients. She is able to turn work round very quickly and is excellent in keeping me in the loop in our cases. She is a pleasure to work for.’
- Acting for a husband in divorce proceedings involving assets of over £7m and complicated by the client having had vulnerable mental health.
- Representing a child of 7 years in age, in an application brought by a local authority for a care order in relation to concerns about the mother’s mental health and extreme behaviour on the part of the child.
- Acting on an application by a father who is a resident in Lithuania, under Article 21 of the 1980 Hague Convention for contact with his child, who resides in the UK with the mother.
Offering clients the full range of dispute resolution assistance and advice in areas of specialism such as high-value matrimonial, children and international relocation cases and pre and post-nuptial agreements, Brachers’ family department, spread across Maidstone and Canterbury, is ‘extremely knowledgeable and efficient’. ‘Confident advocate’ Mark Leeson co-heads the practice with Mei-Ling McNab, offering experience in matrimonial finance, children and cohabitee disputes and mediation proceedings. McNab, who is a ‘highly intelligent’ and ‘excellent collaborative lawyer’, leads on many matters including Children Act proceedings as well as marital disputes in the agricultural and business sectors.
Mark Leeson; Mei-Ling McNab
Other key lawyers:
Sophie Read; Elliott Atkinson
‘Brachers LLP were a recommendation to me and worked well with my intention to adopt a collaborative approach to my divorce. They were able to offer this service, which is still not available in many law firms, and in my opinion is an innovative step to ensure divorce does not have to be combative and destructive. Brachers were professional and communicative from the very outset and right through the process.’
‘If you want efficient and quality service in the South East, the Brachers team are a great option. They offer pragmatic and sound advice, they have a nose for the answer and a no-nonsense way of getting there.’
‘The support and guidance received from Mei-Ling McNab and her team has been remarkable throughout the entire process. Not only is Mei-Ling proactive and quick thinking with every turn of events but her legal knowledge is excellent. The efficient communication, professionalism and advice received from Mei-Ling led to a feeling of calm confidence. From the beginning Mei-Ling has been formidable and one would struggle to find a better family solicitor.’
‘Mei-Ling stands out as an excellent collaborative lawyer who I always feel comfortable going into a meeting with. She has an excellent manner and equally excellent legal and technical knowledge.’
‘A strong team in family, with a particular strength in financial remedy work.’
‘Mei Ling McNab and Mark Leeson have really brought the firm forward in leaps and bounds since they were made joint heads of the team. They are real family law heavyweights, whether your case is HNW or more run of the mill, their attention to detail is flawless and they always deliver the right result for the client. Elliott Atkinson is definitely one to watch and a star for the future!’
‘Mark Leeson brings a wealth of experience to the job and is a confident advocate, when required, in his own right. He is very much liked by his clients. Mark’s contributions were helpful and useful. Mark also has a wonderful ability to find a non-litigated solution where possible. Mark is client-focused, motivated, constructive, very affable and excellent at his job.’
The large family team at DMH Stallard LLP, which recently merged with Sussex-based private client firm Griffith Smith LLP, offers ‘excellent attention to detail and client care’ to high-net-worth clients and business owners. Operating across offices in Horsham, Hassocks, Brighton, Gatwick and Guildford, the practice provides a range of family law advice and dispute resolution representation relating to cohabitation, children, same-sex relationship and international family law. Team leader and ‘expert’ in contentious divorces and financial proceedings Mark Rennie is ‘strategic, great to work with, client focused and reliable’. Philip Morton manages the team in Guildford and is sought out to assist with complex financial and international cases. In Horsham, Nigel Winter operates a free family law clinic and has a broad practice handling collaborative law and contested ancillary relief proceedings and cohabitation agreements. All issues trained mediator Samantha Jago carries out her own advocacy and offers ‘clear advice’ to parents, business owners and senior managers, while Joanna Potbury has significant experience in matrimonial finance cases.
Other key lawyers:
Philip Morton; Nigel Winter; Samantha Jago; Joanna Potbury; Susan Hayes
‘Nigel Winter dealt with my case. He was very supportive, informative and gave me very good advice. He was very supportive throughout the court procedure. I would thoroughly recommend him to any of my friends.’
‘The team at DMH Stallard are kind, compassionate, knowledgeable, thorough and really do want the best outcome for their clients. I have dealt with numerous members of the team and have found each and every one of them to be this way.’
‘The key ingredient is the quality of the professionals, their identification with us as clients, their wholehearted support and straight-talking advice. They have been prompt in response, clear in their advice and supportive throughout. The professionals were clearly very experienced.’
‘Susan Hayes managed the process securing the divorce settlement. She is articulate, positive, highly supportive and thoroughly practical, and guided us through the many twists and turns of an antagonistic ex-partner to secure a fair settlement.’
‘Mark Rennie is an expert, strategic, great to work with, client focused and reliable.’
‘I have been a client of Samantha Jago for some time. She offers an excellent service, with clear advice and a firm hand dealing with the other side. Queries are answered promptly and effectively.’
‘Joanna Potbury was by far the most understanding solicitor that I dealt with. Joanna is very compassionate and trustworthy. Her response times and communication are fantastic. I have referred many clients to Joanna.’
‘You are dealt with compassion and understanding from outset. The emotional roller coaster is hard to navigate but the team is great and helps you think and see clearly. They have a pragmatic approach but give good, clear and sound advice.’
Located in Kingston upon Thames, the ‘thorough, competent, empathetic and professional’ family department at Russell-Cooke LLP is ‘a force to be reckoned with’. With a reputation in handling financial matters, agreements, and intervenor applications for mid to high-net-worth clients such as entrepreneurs and professionals, the practice continues to grow its offering in international matters relating to nuptial agreements, TLATA and Schedule 1 matters as well as its surrogacy, adoption, modern families and abduction work. The team is co-headed by trained collaborative lawyer Hannah Field, who has ‘great client management skills’ and regularly handles financial matters and international relocations concerning children, and the ‘experienced’ Miranda Green, who is an accredited resolution specialist and mediator, who specialises in financial provision, international and European family law and is ‘simply the best’.
Hannah Field; Miranda Green
Other key lawyers:
Jade Quirke; Fiona Reed
‘The Russell-Cooke team are a force to be reckoned with. Their client care is assiduous, and they know when to fight and when to settle.’
‘Miranda Green is simply the best. Nothing phases her and she routinely outsmarts her opponents simply by being experienced, reasonable and better prepared.’
‘Russell-Cooke are a heavy weight and the equal to any firm in the country. Their lawyers are of exceptionally high quality and hard working. No stone is left unturned and no avenue to assist the client left unexplored. Their expertise allows them to provide clear advice and position their client in the best possible way. The best compliment I can give them is I refer all my friends and family to them for assistance.’
‘Hannah Field has great client management skills and cuts to the heart of cases quickly.’
‘The depth, breadth & experience of practitioners stands out. They are very well respected, solution focused and decisive when they need to be. The practice is hugely respected and collegiate.’
‘The team is thorough, competent, empathetic and professional. I found a very high level of dedication and compassion toward myself and the delicate situation I was in. Communication was always prompt and details and I felt confident in my team throughout the case.’
‘Miranda Green is excellent. She is prompt to reply to you, and any issues you have. She is more than willing to explain things so that you are reassured. She is warm yet professional. The team which works with Miranda were on the ball and quick to reply. They did not disappoint.’
‘They are principled, technically knowledgeable, experienced, pragmatic and human. They can empathise with clients whilst keeping faith to best practice and ethics. Jade Quirke and Fiona Reed stood out. Fiona Reed has a genuine enthusiasm to make the world a better place and brings experience sitting as a deputy District Judge. Hannah Field works hard for her clients, refers into out of court processes when appropriate and again is a pleasure to deal with.’
Multi-disciplinary firm TWM Solicitors LLP offers a broad range of family support out of the Guildford, Reigate and Epsom offices, in core areas of expertise which include wealth protection work, alternative dispute resolution, Children Act matters such as child arrangement disputes and special guardianship applications, as well as financial matters and Schedule 1 and TOLATA work. Practice head Caroline Keeley acts as a mediator, and has a strong reputation in surrogacy matters and financial remedy proceedings. Highly praised collaborative lawyer Demelza Patricio is cited as a ‘standout’ and ‘astute tactician’, and deals with children cases involving drug and alcohol abuse, sperm donor agreements and financial cases. Managing associate Sarah Archibald leads the Epsom team, representing clients in court and in financial applications, children proceedings and domestic abuse injunction applications, with a speciality in combined Schedule 1 and TOLATA applications.
Other key lawyers:
Demelza Patricio; Sarah Archibald; Rebecca Cozens; Francesca McCay; Jacky Butt
‘A rock solid reputation and a hugely respected firm and department. The family department’s strengths are the experience and approach of their practitioners. The team is sensible and pleasant to deal with. The team recommend out of court processes when appropriate and provide an excellent service.’
‘The team orbits around Demelza Patricio who very capably marshals everybody. She is excellent, offers a good value service, has fantastic client handling skills and is an astute tactician. The team are organised and sensible litigators who have very good client handling skills.’
‘I knew I needed to engage with a law firm that has the ability to navigate through difficult divorce proceedings and is exceptional in their service delivery and communication. Both Rebecca Cozens and Sarah Archibald have been superb in this regard. Rebecca is an exceptional lawyer who is continuously supportive and has excelled as my divorce lawyer. Not only is Rebecca compassionate, she is an excellent advocate with an extensive range of family law experience which has proved invaluable in my case.’
‘The family team is comprised of exceptional lawyers and support staff and is always engaging with their clients to seek a resolution. Not only are the lawyers well versed in family law and litigation, they are able to effectively handle complex divorce cases and actively listen to their client’s reservations and concerns. TWM are clear leaders in their collaborative and transparent approach.’
‘I would cite Demelza Patricio as a stand out member of the team. She made me feel comfortably from the very first meeting and helped guide me through the process we would ultimately take and also guided me with sound advice on how to deal with elements of the divorce process that she was well versed in. She made me feel very much at ease and helped navigate, in clear and non legal type terms, the divorce process and ensured my rights were clearly understood from the get-go.’
‘Jacky Butt is technically hugely capable and a delight to deal with. Clients feel very safe in her hands.’
‘Francesca McCay and Demelza Patricio are simply amazing! They have been so supportive and explained everything clearly.’
‘Sarah Archibald was representing me and I always felt that she provided unbiased and impartial honest views on my situation that eventually led to a relatively frictionless conclusion that satisfied all parties.’
Boys & Maughan
The ‘experienced’ family team at Boys & Maughan, which spans the Margate and Canterbury hubs, handles ‘all types of family cases’. Known for its representation of children and parents in divorce and separation matters and care proceedings, the practice has recently been advising on international matrimonial affairs. Team head Jonathan da Costa is a ‘safe pair of hands’ and a ‘highly engaging practitioner’ that specialises in advising high-net-worth clients on financial matters in the context of relationship breakdowns.
Jonathan da Costa
Other key lawyers:
‘An experienced team that is easy to deal with.’
‘Jonathan da Costa is a very safe pair of hands. He is unflappable and has an excellent manner with clients. He has many years of experience, including running complicated high-asset cases. His approach is measured, strategic and fair.’
‘I find Jonathan da Costa a highly engaging practitioner with an excellent grasp of detail and a human approach to family law.’
- Instructed in relation to financial arrangements of an unmarried couple involving a house which is valued in excess of £2m and is owned by a company that is registered overseas.
- Advised and assisted a wife in divorce and financial remedy proceedings which involve allegations of emotional and psychological abuse by the husband.
- Instructed by the applicant father in relation to proceedings concerning his two children who are aged 9 and 6. The mother of the children (which have dual nationality) is from Taiwan which is not subject to the Hague Convention and has no bilateral arrangements with the UK.
Coole Bevis LLP
The Brighton-based family law practice at Coole Bevis LLP, which recently acquired Rita Sen Solicitors, offers a ‘first-class service’ across a range of matters including divorce, children proceedings and TOLATA issues, and has an ‘excellent financial remedies team’. ‘Highly experienced’ financial settlement specialist Susan Knight leads the team, often handling high-net-worth and international matters as well as assisting older clients facing issues of capacity. Focusing on matrimonial and Children Act cases, mediator and collaborative lawyer Julia Dyson ‘always goes above and beyond for her clients’. TOLATA expert James Leach is also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
Julia Dyson; James Leach
‘Susan Knight is highly experienced and brings a calmness to her cases that reassures even the most anxious client. They can tell she knows it all and that inspires confidence.’
‘A very personable, solid and friendly team with a great depth of knowledge and experience in relation to all aspects of family law. The team is very approachable and always go ‘the extra mile’ for their clients.’
‘The breadth of experience is second-to-none. The attention to detail and desire to provide a first-class service is clear in every case.’
Edward Cooke Family Law
Delivering specialist family law services from its offices in Chichester and Brighton, the team at Edward Cooke Family Law have recently assisted with mediations, arbitrations and provided advice on matters relating to assets, financial arrangements and children. Founder of the firm Edward Cooke is noted in the market for his mediation and collaborative law work and has extensive experience in handling high-net-worth financial remedy family litigation concerning pensions, trusts and business assets. Leading the Brighton office is surrogacy and fertility law specialist Lauren Guy, and Michelle Lewis covers a broad spectrum of matters including complex financial and children work.
Other key lawyers:
Lauren Guy; Michelle Lewis
‘Edward Cooke has incredible emotional intelligence, which combined with his legal expertise and pragmatism on difficult cases, make him stand head and shoulders above others in his area.’
‘The firm has a strong reputation for doing high quality work and providing a good service for family law clients, which stems primarily from Edward Cooke, who is the driving force. They take a constructive approach to resolving family law matters in the interests of the parties.’
‘Michelle Lewis and Lauren Guy are both very capable and approachable, practising family law exactly how it should be done – child and client focused. I would trust this firm with my own friends and family members.’
Offering a variety of family services to high-net-worth individuals, entrepreneurs and professionals, the ‘strong family team’ at Judge & Priestley LLP is described as having a ‘real strength in international cases’. Kelly Sharman routinely handles divorce and finance related work, while ‘stand out’ dual qualified (Spain and England) lawyer Maria Conesa Gonzalez heads up the team and has expertise in complex private children matters and disputes involving child abduction issues, the registration and enforcement of foreign orders, and applications for leave to remove. Expert in cohabitation and TOLATA matters Angela Amponsah is also noted.
Kelly Sharman; Maria Conesa Gonzalez
Other key lawyers:
Angela Amponsah; Yanoulla Kakoulli
‘Angela Amponsah is incredibly friendly. Maria Conesa Gonzalez is an expert at complex children case particularly those with an international element. Kelly Sharman heads up the team with her strong legal expertise and practical attitude to the negotiation process.’
‘Maria Conesa Gonzalez is the stand out of the firm. She is incredible in her practice and very down to earth, making her approachable and a stand out in her field. She has an eye for detail.’
‘Angela Amponsah is a sensitive, diligent and fearless solicitor who always does the absolute best for her clients.’
‘Judge & Priestly has an excellent standard of client care and committed lawyers who always work to do the very best for every client.’
‘Kelly Sharman has done an amazing job building the team, more or less from scratch, whilst managing her own busy practice. A fierce and tenacious solicitor, no-one fights their clients corner as staunchly as Kelly. Maria Conesa Gonzalez is a legal powerhouse! What she doesn’t know about International Relocation isn’t worth knowing! Angela Amponsah and Yanoulla Kakoulli are fantastic recruits and will only enhance the teams already fantastic offering.’
‘‘Boutique firm which offers great diversity, a real strength in working in teams and excellent client care.’
‘They have fantastic strength in depth and can cover all areas of Family Law to the highest degree.’
‘J&P has a strong family team covering a wide variety of family law issues. The team has a real strength in international cases, and cases where there is the need for expertise in other areas of family law such as divorce and finances alongside the children proceedings.’
Based in Surrey and instructed on divorce and financial cases domestically and across a number of countries, the family department at rhw Solicitors offers ‘excellent advice’ and ‘knowledge, experience and expertise in litigation’. Heading up the team is member of Resolution Richard Middlehurst, who ‘provides a steady hand on the tiller’ covering a broad range of matters including civil partnership and TOLATA cases and conducting his own advocacy in relation to injunctions, Children Act matters and financial relief. Lauren Moir handles divorces and contested financial remedy proceedings, also dealing with applications and hearings for non-molestation and occupation orders. The ‘dedicated’ and ‘detail focused’ Elizabeth Leah took up a consultant role in September 2022.
Other key lawyers:
Lauren Moir; Elizabeth Leah; Serena Sandhu
‘Richard Middlehurst provides a steady hand on the tiller.’
‘Elizabeth Leah is very compassionate, but very detail focused. We never missed any deadlines and the quality of her work was outstanding. Richard Middlehurst is also very detailed and focused.’
‘RHW is a Surrey-based firm with a wealth of experience in family law matters. They offer the whole spectrum of services with the advantage of local knowledge and impeccable client service and care.’
The ‘group of excellent lawyers’ at specialist family firm Stowe Family Law LLP, which operates across 21 bases including Esher, Tunbridge Wells, Guildford, Brighton, Reigate and Sevenoaks, has a diverse caseload across complex child law and finance matters. Led by Emma Newman, who is proficient in financial remedy matters involving foreign assets and complex pensions and child disputes spanning domestic abuse, safeguarding and relocation issues, the team also fields an in-house forensic accountancy team. Niamh McCarthy ‘delivers quality advice’ and ‘obtains exceptional results’ in financial, children and cohabitee matters concerning TOLATA.
Other key lawyers:
Niamh McCarthy; Gemma Thew; Gemma Artus; Nicola Beasley
‘The team are empathetic and understanding but ensure that clients remain properly informed as to the likely prospects of success of their case. The whole team are hardworking and affable. I regularly recommend Stowe when asked for recommendations for reputable local Family firms.’
‘I think Emma Newman is very good indeed.’
‘A great team with good lawyers including Emma Newman and Niamh McCarthy.’
‘One of the friendliest teams I have come across. A group of excellent lawyers striving for the best for their clients.’
‘Nicola Beasley is an asset to Stowe and her capabilities far exceed her level of relative experience. She is able to hold her own against partners of other firms. Her correspondence is always measured yet sufficiently robust and detailed. Her attention to detail is particularly impressive.’
‘Niamh McCarthy not only works tirelessly for her clients but obtains exceptional results.’
‘They are a strong team with a number of very good individual solicitors. Gemma Artus has an exceptional bedside manner. Clients would follow her anywhere. She will ensure that people are well supported throughout. Niamh McCarthy is incredibly clever. She has strong skills in alternative dispute resolution and ensures that court is the last resort not the first.’
‘The practice solely focuses on family law, so instructing Stowe will ensure you receive advice from a specialist family lawyer. A great level of skill and knowledge is shown via correspondence and the day to day running of the case.’
ThomasHaywood Solicitors’ family law team in Tunbridge Wells offers significant experience in financial matters for high-net-worth individuals and also handles international child abduction matters, nuptial agreements and civil partnership and cohabitation advice. Team head and experienced mediator Sarah Haywood is a ‘brilliant tactician’ and handles a range of family matters including matrimonial and financial litigation. Another key lawyer is ‘highly competent presence’ Juliet Franklin, who frequently handles disputes involving substantial assets and nuptial agreements as well as private law children work.
Other key lawyers:
‘A very personal and flexible service. I’ve worked extensively with Juliet Franklin.’
‘A provincial firm providing excellent quality advice for a fraction of that of a London based outfit. I worked with Juliet Franklin.’
‘Sarah Haywood and Juliet Franklin are immensely knowledgeable and efficient. They are forward thinking and are always developing ways in which they can make, what is a highly traumatic time for clients, better.’
Crisp & Co
In Kingston upon Thames, specialist family boutique Crisp & Co, co-founded by ‘outstanding lawyer’ Henry Crisp, advises on the full spectrum of family law work including divorces and the dissolution of civil partnerships, matrimonial finance issues, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, and modern family matters including fertility law and cohabitation issues.
Other key lawyers:
Carol Christofi; Elaine Morrison; Anuradha Kurl; Anya Gold; Maryana Tuka
‘Henry Crisp, founding partner, is the perfect solicitor. He is very experienced and has impeccable judgment. Henry’s case strategy is second to none, he has good instinct and he is an absolute pleasure to work with. Elaine Morrison is very personable and great to work with. She has good judgement and is able to bring a healthy dose of reality to even the most difficult cases with entrenched parties. Anya Gold is a rising star. She is understated but very clever and persistent in achieving successful outcomes for her clients.’
‘Carol Christofi is a wonderful solicitor. She is patient and kind and builds a great rapport with the client who knows that she has their back.’
‘Crisp and Co are positioning themselves as leading lawyers for alternative families. They are seeking to branch more into assisted reproduction and fertility. They are a really nice bunch of people as well as being good lawyers.’
Handling a range of matters including matrimonial finance cases and private law children work, the Uckfield-based family department at Dawson Hart is led by highly regarded collaborative lawyer, mediator and arbitrator, Mahie Abey. Also noted is the ‘knowledgeable, engaged, personable and able’ Caroline Bourn.
Other key lawyers:
‘It is one of the best firms in Sussex.’
‘Mahie Abey is a former barrister that gives early and accurate advice. He settles most of his caseload, on good terms, and he operates on an almost 100% referral basis. He is calm and reassuring. His preparation of a case is second to none. He represents phenomenal value for money and is frequently up against the most well-known firms in the market, even in London. Our team refer clients to him, little more need be said!’
‘The collaboration was excellent. The team was always available and dedicated to my case. I appreciated the honest advice that was always in my best interests. I appreciated the straightforward approach and outstanding expertise and experience. The team remained supportive and kind in this difficult time. I never doubted that I was in the best hands that would efficiently handle my case.’
In Brighton, the ‘extremely well-regarded’ Dean Wilson LLP is ‘one of the go-to firms in the area’, and is instructed by businesspersons, international sports persons and celebrities for advisory, litigation, mediation and collaboration support on a range of matters including divorces, financial resolutions, children issues and nuptial agreements. Practice head Julian Hunt is an ‘experienced practitioner’, mediator and collaborative lawyer that specialises in divorces, separations and cohabitation disputes. The Resolution-accredited and ‘level-headed and intelligent’ Sarah Phillips is ‘always willing to go the extra mile’.
Other key lawyers:
Sarah Phillips; Jennie Apsey
‘Dean Wilson provide an exceptional level of service to individuals at one of the toughest times in their lives. Despite the size of the family law team they are extremely well regarded and one of the go-to firms in the area.’
‘Julian Hunt is an experienced practitioner who is well known and respected by opponents and the judiciary. I have found him to be insightful and to have appropriately managed client expectations. Sarah Phillips is a joy to work with. She is extremely personable and excellent at dealing with difficult opponents and delivering successful outcomes for her clients. She seems to have unbounded energy and enthusiasm for her cases. She is hard working and dedicated and I’ve recommended her. Jennie Apsey is one to watch for the future. She is level-headed and unflustered by even the most difficult of litigants in person. She is extremely hard working and someone you want in your corner.’
‘Sarah Phillips has represented me and the support I received from Sarah through a very challenging and stressful period of my life was second to none. Sarah is an excellent people person as well as being highly competent. Sarah’s superb correspondence was key evidence throughout the litigation. Sarah was very personable and went above and beyond to reassure me and manage me, always giving me pertinent advice. Without Sarah’s level-headed and intelligent help things would have turned out differently. It was a source of comfort to me that Sarah was fighting my corner and there to give me the legal support I needed.’
‘Sarah Phillips is an excellent solicitor who consistently goes over and above for her clients. She has a genuine care for each client and is always willing to go the extra mile. I would describe her as providing a platinum service.’
‘Dean Wilson are a very respected practice within Sussex. They are a full-service practice and appear to excel in all areas. Their family team is committed to working collaboratively and always uphold a professional approach to their cases. We have no hesitation in recommending clients to them where there might be a conflict.’
‘Dean Wilson houses a highly experienced team of family lawyers who I would describe as experts in their field. They are hard-working and devoted to the best outcome for each client.’
‘Julian Hunt is a really good lawyer, experienced, calm and can fight his client’s corner with flair and creativity without making the dispute intractable. Not to be underestimated, he diffuses difficult situations with good humour and a direct approach. He is straight talking, trustworthy and well respected locally.’
‘Having used several family solicitors in the past I feel fortunate to have had Jennie Apsey on my team. From the outset Jennie understood how complicated the case was, demonstrating just the right balance of pragmatism and care. Throughout the twelve months I engaged Jennie nothing was too much trouble. I cannot thank her enough and will always be grateful, as will my children. I would not hesitate to recommend Jennie.’
‘Standout family practitioner’ Gemma Purt, who is based in Herne Bay, is the new head of the ‘dynamic and pragmatic’ family law department at Girlings. Committed to pro bono work and members of Resolution, the team often acts in a variety of matters concerning child contact, divorce and financial resolutions and injunction order applications.
Other key lawyers:
Curtis Wray; Joanna Lawrence; Anisha Teelwah; Megan Mahesan
‘Gemma Purt is a standout family practitioner combining genuine warmth and empathy with natural competence and efficiency.’
‘They are a friendly, approachable and hardworking team. Their focus is obtaining resolutions for clients, being pragmatic, offering robust advice but similarly knowing when to be tough with the other side. They have a solid reputation as a firm and their individual lawyers are impressive.’
‘Girlings is an excellent firm delivering good quality work across the board. Their family team is very switched on. They do a lot of children work for which they are highly regarded and instruct me on matrimonial finance work. Their instructions are always excellent quality, well prepared and sensible issues taken and pursued. I know they are also strong in civil and employment work.’
Mayo Wynne Baxter LLP has recently bolstered its private client and family practice, which spans Crawley, East Grinstead and Lewes, through the merger with Lawson Lewis Blakers in April 2023. Also a member of the national legal and professional services group AMPA, the team is co-led by ‘incredible solicitor’ and barrister Grant Parker, who specialises in cases of domestic abuse, separation, divorce and cohabitation and financial issues arising from relationship breakdown, and Emma Van Bunnens, who undertakes her own advocacy and focuses on financial remedy and private law children matters including child arrangement and special guardianship orders.
Grant Parker; Emma Van Bunnens
Other key lawyers:
Charles Le May; Karen Jeary; Estella Hlisnikowski
‘Grant Parker always puts his clients first. He is friendly and approachable, and a joy to work with. His strategic approach to cases continually sees great results on behalf of his clients. Karen Jeary brings a wealth of experience to cases she is involved in. Her experience allows her to navigate complex matters with minimal fuss, and cases are brought to conclusion with efficiency. Karen is a calming influence when it comes to contested matters but represents her clients’ interests with tenacity.’
‘Estella Hilsnikowski is just a joy to deal with. She is an associate who is extremely diligent and thorough. She is friendly and easy to deal with. Estella represents her client in a transparent and robust manner, always putting her clients’ needs first. Estella’s detailed approach, coupled with her ability to put clients’ minds at ease with her excellent client care sees Estella as a standout choice of who to instruct on complicated case.’
‘A first-class team that is intent on delivering the best service to each client. A great team of partners including Emma Van Bunnens, Grant Parker and Charles Le May.’
‘The family team at Mayo Wynne Baxter are a fantastic group of lawyers to work with. They are always highly efficient and always trying to achieve the best possible results for their clients.’
‘Karen Jeary is very client focused. She has a thorough understanding of the law and the best approach to take to help clients to achieve their goals. Charles Le May is a solicitor who always offers more to his clients. He is careful and knowledgeable. He goes out of his way to support individuals during difficult cases to achieve the best possible outcome.’
‘Grant Parker was an incredible solicitor, and we would use him again if needed. He was truthful, straight up and didn’t sugar coat anything. He was sensitive and kind about the situation but also told us in the kindest way where we were wrong or wouldn’t get what we were asking for from the other side. He was reliable and quick to respond in an emergency, which our case was. He acted with urgency in every way.’
‘MWB has a diverse practice and can offer good practical advice on a whole range of legal matters. They are a mid-sized firm, not too large to lose the friendly personal touch.’
‘The firm is a class and quality firm and has a diverse range of experienced lawyers to cover all aspects of legal issues.’
Morr & Co LLP
Operating across Kent and Surrey, the family law department at Morr & Co LLP offers ‘excellent client care from the beginning to the end’ of a matter. Led by Stephanie Calthrop-Owen, who frequently advises high-net-worth clients including sportsmen and politicians on international cases, the team has a broad offering covering wealth protection agreements, divorce and financial proceedings, and children law matters.
Other key lawyers:
Deborah Prance; Anne McAllister; Selena Ludick
‘The lawyers are always pleasant, courteous and helpful. The other diverse services offered within the practice makes seeking cross-department advice and information easily accessible and helpful.’
‘The individuals I have worked with have always been very approachable and ready to explain (sometimes more than once) anything I have not fully understood. I would like to mention Deborah Prance who has been extremely understanding, vigilant, resourceful and ‘on top of my case’ throughout. She has always kept me fully informed of developments and has instilled confidence which has been invaluable. Her networking/team development skills within and outside the practice have been invaluable both to me and my case. Her expertise and professionalism are exemplary.’
‘Excellent client care from the beginning to the end of the case. A strong firm with a broad range of experience and talented individuals.’
In Uckfield, ‘well-established firm’ Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP fields a ‘very personable, friendly and approachable’ family law team that regularly acts for high-net-worth clients, business owners and directors in divorces, separations, civil partnership dissolutions, financial settlements involving company assets and inheritance, and litigation. Member of Resolution Janet Raeburn is well versed in assisting with matters involving children and the safeguarding of personal and business assets for future generations.
Other key lawyers:
‘Rix & Kay is a very well-established firm that I was recommended by an acquaintance who had similar issues to my own that required legal advice. I have found all the team members to be very professional at all levels and roles. I am kept up to date regularly with the current progress and situation of my case.’
‘My principal solicitor and contact at Rix & Kay is Janet Raeburn. Janet is a thoroughly professional individual and has provided a deeply knowledgeable service from the beginning of our work together. I have every confidence that Janet will achieve positive results for my case. Her work is to be highly commended.’
‘The people at Rix & Kay are very personable, friendly and approachable. They are quick to respond and efficient in all my dealings with them.’
‘Janet Raeburn’s client care is very good. Craig Yeung-Williams is very personable and has a good grasp of the law.’
‘I know Craig Yeung-Williams who is excellent. The firm certainly has an excellent reputation in East Sussex.’
‘Craig Yeung-Williams is pragmatic and calm but totally on top of his cases. I have only done financial remedy cases with him where he has shown a towering command of the figures and is very impressive and quick to identify solutions.’
Accounting for a substantial proportion of the firm’s work, the family law team at Rosewood Solicitors in Woking excels in divorce and finance matters, care proceedings and private children cases. Co-heading the team is divorce and finance expert and managing partner Emma Patel, who handles pre-nuptial agreements and TOLATA-related matters, and Dev Jummoodoo, who is instructed on private law and public law matters under the Family Law Act 1996, increasingly focusing on care proceedings, and child abduction, surrogacy and parental order matters.
Dev Jummoodoo; Emma Patel
‘Emma Patel stands out for her approach to the situation and her ability to make you feel at ease and explain the situation.’
‘I have been dealing with the Surrey branch and have been a client for both the partners of Rosewood solicitors (Dev Jummoodoo and Emma Patel). My case has been very complicated and is still ongoing but the whole team have been brilliant. Their attention to detail, professionalism and attentiveness to my situation has been unprecedented in my opinion when comparing to other firms.’
‘All the staff I have dealt with in this firm have been amazing! Emma Patel and her team have treated my case with care and consideration. They are very quick to react and they listen and understand what I am trying to achieve (the end goal) which is always in their focus. Emma in particular has been amazing and I fully trust her advice when I have been unsure of things. Her knowledge and experience on family matters has been vital in my case in order to move forwards.’
- Advised on divorce and marital assets worth approximately £6m, including property and other assets overseas (Caribbean), some of which are subject to a HMRC enquiry.
- Acting in a child protection case involving two children suffering multiple and serious alleged non-accidental injuries and allegations of serious criminality. Assisting the mother in relation to the council’s application for a Care Order.
- Advising on a divorce in the UK of a couple originally married in Bangladesh which are disputing the actual year of marriage, allegations of domestic abuse, unlawful mortgage applications against family property and mortgage loan defaults.
Thackray Williams LLP
Increasingly assisting high-net-worth individuals with business interests on pre and post-nuptial, cohabitation and separation agreements, including cases with an international element, the Sevenoaks and Bromley-based family law team at Thackray Williams LLP is ‘well-known in the area as a powerhouse’. Team leader Stuart Ruff is described as ‘the strength of the family team’ and handles court orders, injunctions for domestic violence, disputes concerning children and properties as well as pre and post-nuptial agreements. ‘Perfect partner’ Caroline Burstein is experienced with enforcement actions and variations of existing orders.
Other key lawyers:
Caroline Burstein; Galbraith Gorman; Sarah Wilkinson
‘Thackray Williams is well-known in area as a powerhouse. Unlike other firms in the area, it has a powerhouse of individuals available to offer advice in a wide-range of fields.’
‘Galbraith Gorman is a very impressive individual. His preparation and eye for detail is only surpassed by his client care. He has his eye firmly on the bigger picture.’
‘Thackray Williams really do have a lawyer or expert for every occasion. I ended up needing an array of lawyers to deal with my divorce case, including, property, employment, IP and family lawyers. The communication and collaboration between the teams was seamless and very thorough.’
Thomas Mansfield Solicitors
In Tunbridge Wells and Guildford, Thomas Mansfield Solicitors fields an ‘utterly committed, down to earth, approachable, supportive set of exceptional family lawyers’. Led by Kate Rayner, the department is known for advising clients with complex assets and trusts on divorces, financial remedies, and children work, offering litigation and alternative dispute resolution support. Also of note in the team that 'demonstrates a great amount of empathy, care and tact when dealing with tricky family law issues' is Kate Denham.
Other key lawyers:
Susi Gillespie; Kate Denham; Kate Rayner; Kate Newton
‘Thomas Mansfield has an exceptional and highly collaborative team. Whenever my key point of contact has been away, issues are quickly picked up and dealt with by other members of the team, all of whom appear to have a great, collective and collaborative understanding of their clients’ issues.’
‘My experience of dealing with individuals at the firm is that they demonstrate a great amount of empathy, care and tact when dealing with tricky family law issues. Susi Gillespie in particular continually demonstrates a firm, yet sensitive approach, which is gratefully appreciated.’
‘Their advice is always excellent, behaviour is always professional, and you genuinely feel they want they best for the client as opposed to making money from them.’
- Acting for a client in High Court financial remedy proceedings involving cross-jurisdictional issues, pre and post-nuptial agreements, offshore trusts and private equity carried interest with net assets of £21m.
- Acting for a client in respect of child arrangement order proceedings, subsequent enforcement proceedings and providing advice and assistance in relation to Hague proceedings in Russia.
- Acting for a client in contested financial remedy proceedings, with assets over £4m and global business interests, which were settled through private FDR.
Tisshaws Family Law Solicitors
In Hayward Heath, the ‘friendly, efficient and robust’ team at boutique family practice Tisshaws Family Law Solicitors has a reputation for handling complex family and contested children matters which concern the safeguarding of children, allegations of abuse and vulnerable parties; the group also offers assistance with complex financial divorce cases. Resolution member and collaborative lawyer Gilva Tisshaw offers a ‘wealth of experience’ and provides ‘clear and pragmatic advice’. Senior associate Lidia Farrell is also key, handling all aspects of family law from separation and divorce issues to domestic violence and private law children matters.
Other key lawyers:
Lidia Farrell; Richard Adams; Verity Eunson-Hickey; Hana Khodabocus
‘Tisshaws solicitors is an experienced family law practice that gives comprehensive and accurate legal advice to their clients. The firm is committed to resolving family law issues outside of court through expert mediation and conflict resolution. When an amicable resolution is not possible, the firm’s litigation work is exceptionally prepared and thoughtfully considered.’
‘Tisshaws give extremely valuable help and advice, but in a totally thoughtful and unbiased way allowing me to make informed decisions at a time of immense emotional stress and worry and because of this I always felt in control, empowered and prepared.’
‘Tisshaws, headed by Gilva Tisshaw, are a powerhouse locally. They are friendly, efficient and robust and their reputation speaks for itself. With several trained mediators, alternative dispute resolution is also explored and where necessary, proceedings are issued, and counsel instructed.’
- Advised a husband on a complex financial matter and worked with a range of other professionals to resolve a Pension Sharing Order issue, resulting from the premature death of the former wife. Successfully had the order set aside.
- Advised a wife on financial matters in contested divorce proceedings, where assets of £2.56m included rare book and art collections. After instructing specialist valuers, and a pensions expert, achieved a fair outcome for the wife.
Focusing on advocacy and litigation in relation to children proceedings, the ‘efficient, proactive and dynamic’ team at Venters Solicitors regularly advises local authorities and vulnerable clients on care proceedings, contact disputes and cases involving allegations of parental alienation. Co-heading the team is London-based Andrea Dawkins and founder of the firm June Venters KC, who is based in Reigate; Venters is a Resolution-accredited specialist and often acts in cases involving children in the family and criminal courts.
June Venters KC; Andrea Dawkins
Other key lawyers:
Lauren Naismith; Reena Patel; Ailsa Kirkham
‘Overall the company works as a team, is exceptionally welcoming, friendly yet professional at all times. Regular meetings with all professionals and clients to ensure all options are being explored. Staff are very observant and sensitive. They have measures in place to ensure inclusion initiatives are followed thoroughly and naturally.’
‘They have a strong presence and good availability for clients in the southeast. You are treated with kindness and respect even as a Legal Aid client. The empathic approach and honesty makes you feel taken care of from the outset.’
‘They give the sense that they genuinely want to take care of you. They understand that it’s a scary process and they take the time to listen to you and manage your hopes and expectations realistically.’
‘Lauren Naismith and her team are outstanding members. Their quality of service and responsiveness makes you feel like you are their only clients. They inspire confidence, are supportive and caring. Lauren Naismith goes above and beyond all expectations, she takes the time to listen, research, collaborates with other professionals and then gives you accurate and sound advice. She puts your thoughts and wishes at the centre of discussions and always talks and treats you with respect. Lauren Naismith has positively changed my attitude and preconceptions of solicitors and legal procedures.’
‘Venters work together as a cohesive team to give their clients an unparalleled service.’
‘Reena Patel is hard-working and really goes above and beyond for her clients. Reena is an expert at dealing with the complexities of representing a local authority as she is at representing a parent. Reena is knowledgeable, helpful and a pleasure to work with. Ailsa Kirkham is a compassionate solicitor who is excellent at helping those that require additional support.’
‘The team is efficient, proactive and dynamic. They stand out in their field in respect of understanding the needs of the client. They understand the priorities and expectations of the local authority that they represent. Venters communicates clearly and often and understand that this is vital for the maintenance of a good relationship.’
‘The individuals that I work with at Venters communicate clearly and provide regular progress updates. Lauren Naismith and Reena Patel are exceptional and proactive communicators. They are responsive and advise on the best course of action. They are positive and calm and focus on solutions rather than the difficulties that need to be overcome. They have our trust.’