Family Law Partners > Brighton, England > Firm Profile

Family Law Partners

Living Wage

Private client > Family: Kent, Surrey, Sussex Tier 1

Family Law Partners was founded in 2011 and now has a team of family experts spread across the South East, with a particular focus on resolving disputes outside the court process. The firm is skilled in handling financial remedies, children work, and increasingly, pre and post-nuptial matters. Managing director Robert Williams, who is based in Brighton, also sits as a deputy district judge, while Kate Elliott, the head of the Horsham office, has particular expertise in international families, inherited wealth and pension assets. Director Lisa Burton-Durham is a Resolution-trained collaborative lawyer.

Practice head(s):

Robert Williams; Lisa Burton-Durham; Kate Elliott

Other key lawyers:

Gemma Hope; Chris Maulkin


‘Responsive, efficient, knowledgeable and supportive. They appreciated and understood both the emotional side of going through a divorce as well as the legal side. They were very understanding when things were changed or unclear at my end and persevered in a very non-critical way. I felt that I could talk to my lawyer about all aspects of the situation in a way that she would understand and have compassion for.’

‘I think the team at Family Law Partners is outstanding. They are always firmly in your corner but crucially and critically always share what they think is the right course of action. They do not pander to the client but rather advise what they think is best to achieve the right outcome. This is a hard path to navigate, and Lisa Burton-Durham does this exceptionally well.’

‘I have been dealing with Family Law Partners since 2014. I chose FLP for their ability and willingness to find an out-of-court solution to my case. The fee structure is transparent and well communicated and the fees are appropriate for the result of the work done. I experienced that every effort was made to avoid unnecessary costs. Overall, I always felt in safe hands with Family Law Partners. I can fully recommend this firm with no reservations.

‘Family Law Partners are a truly unique set-up. They believe in ascertaining at an early stage what kind of dispute resolution is appropriate for the individual client and offer a very bespoke service. They also believe in flexible working for employees (even before Covid) which I think has increased retention and productivity. The clients are offered a very high level of service at competitive prices.’

‘Chris Maulkin has experience beyond his years. His work with innovative family law technology means that he is able to bring a forward-thinking approach for his clients and his preparation and knowledge of his cases is first rate.’

‘Lisa Burton-Durham is such an incredible solicitor. She gave me excellent advice and was extremely robust when dealing with the other side. She kept the pressure on, and we managed to get everything we asked for. Lisa is professional, knowledgeable, responsive, hard-working, robust and kind. She is the person you need on your side. I was very lucky to have her on my side and would recommend her to everyone.’

‘Robert Williams is a collaborative family lawyer; my divorce was less than amicable but despite this, Robert did not give up and we eventually reached a collaborative agreement. Many other lawyers in his position might have given up on the collaborative process but Robert made it work!’

‘Kate Elliott is simply excellent. Highly intelligent, she gets quickly to the heart of the issues a client is facing and sets about finding solutions. She perseveres until she finds one. I have recommended many people to her over the years and have always had positive feedback from them. She has been on the other side of me in a tricky matter and was pragmatic and solution oriented in her approach without remotely losing sight of her client.’

Private client > Family: Essex

Private client > Family: mediation Tier 2

Family Law Partners has various highly-regarded mediators including Sarah Jelly. Jelly mediates on all issues and frequently helps with high-value financial issues. In addition she has now qualified as a hybrid mediator. Hazel Manktelow is a child inclusive mediator. Mark Harrop frequently offers co-mediation with other members of his team  particularly with Kate Elliott  and Farhana Shahzady.

Private client > Family Tier 6

Mark Harrop heads up the specialist 'dynamic and approachable' family team at Family Law Partners . Harrop advises on all aspects of family and relationship breakdown with a particular focus on divorce and financial issues. Harrop has considerable experience in cases involving mental health and  those involving accusations of controlling or abusive behaviour. Farhana Shahzady is another key contact. The practice receives plaudits for its emphasis on dispute resolution with seven mediators, 11 collaborative lawyers and an arbitrator. It is a  'growing team that is young and ambitious'.

Practice head(s):

Mark Harrop (Head of London team) ; Robert Williams (Managing Director); Kate Elliott (Head of Horsham team)

Other key lawyers:


‘Mark Harrop heads the London office and has a well-deserved reputation as one of the next generation of leading family lawyers. He has consistently demonstrated his commitment for transforming the client experience of relationship breakdown. He is a skilled mediator capable of cutting through complex legal issues and working to an effective outcome. He is highly motivated and genuinely passionate about change and innovation‘.

I feel Farhana has worked hard and has gone above and beyond dealing with my case. She has put my mind at ease many a time through very challenging times. Farhana is very professional and passionate about her work and really cares about her clients. I would certainly recommend Farhana to my friends if they ever needed a family lawyer‘.

‘Family Law Partners ticks all the boxes. The lawyers are particularly dispute resolution focused, which was so very important to me. Personable yet professional, energetic and proactive, they are a breath of fresh air. Farhana Shahzady is an especially strong and impressive component. Farhana radiates confidence and dynamism – and has every right to do so. Her ability to quickly evaluate my situation and plot a pathway to swift resolution provided assurance when I needed it the most. When these qualities are coupled with empathy and compassion you have a most able ally. Farhana is the lawyer you want on your side’.

‘Family Law Partners is a stand out firm in London and the South East. I regularly work for a number of its members and on every occasion I am impressed by how well prepared the cases are. They have additional counselling/mediation resources to assist clients in all aspects of their divorce- not just the legal side. Mark Harrop- Mark is exceptionally bright and commercially astute. He brings a quiet confidence to the case and is tactically clever. He is a real pleasure to work with‘.

‘The team has  expertise, excellent judgement and is sensible in approach. Farhana Shazady oozes professionalism, has a brilliant strategic eye and has erudite judgement in her cases. She handles complex money matters with ease. Importantly, she is very approachable and always has a keen eye on keeping a client’s costs to a minimum‘.

The team has a very collaborative and client focused approach. The lawyers seek to actively minimise conflict and are trustworthy. They are sensible and are opponents you know you can pick the phone up to and cut through the noise to get to the issues. Mark Harrop in the London office is highly rated. He is sensible and pragmatic. He earns his client’s confidence and for good reason‘.

Farhana Shahzady gives strategic, practical advice and really fights her client’s corner‘.

Some very clever people balancing legal technical ability with practical results for clients in a deeply emotional situation‘.

Work highlights

  • Representing a party in heavily contested financial and internal relocation proceedings against a spouse who is accused of being abusive and controlling.
  • Advising the financially dominant party on a post-nuptial agreement for an international couple with over £100m of assets in advance of a planned move to the UK.
  • Representing a parent in complex multi-party international relocation proceedings.

Family Law Partners are a specialist firm dealing exclusively with family law in the South East, in Brighton, London, Horsham, Hampshire, Essex and Lewes. We always look to work collaboratively with clients and fellow professionals to achieve the best outcome for our clients and their families.

We have a team of 20 qualified lawyers: Sarah Jelly, consultant (qualified 1978); Robert Williams, director (qualified 1994), Alan Larkin, director (qualified 1997), Jayne Llewelyn, consultant (qualified 1989); Hazel Manktelow, consultant (qualified 2003); Lisa Burton-Durham, director (qualified 2004); Kate Elliott, director (qualified 2006); Farhana Shahzady, director (qualified 2002); Gemma Hope, director (qualified 2006); Mark Harrop, director (qualified 2008); Louise Buttery, consultant (qualified 2011); Chris Maulkin, associate (qualified 2011); Polly Dallyn, associate (qualified 2017), Gemma Garrett, associate (qualified 2013), Charlotte Plowman, associate (qualified 2016); Emily Pain, consultant (qualified 2011); Rachel Nicholl, senior associate (qualified 2013); Mimi Hadley, solicitor (qualified 2020), Hattie Gibson, solicitor (qualified 2019); Rosa Schofield, solicitor (qualified 2020).

We are committed to dispute resolution (DR); presently offering nine mediators, twelve collaborative lawyers and an arbitrator. The willingness to provide and signpost to DR options (including arbitration) is fundamental to our practice and in the “DNA” of all the team, as evidenced by the commitment we make to train the team in DR disciplines.

Types of work undertaken: In all our work we look to ensure the client has the right team in place to support their needs.  This may include specialist counsel, pension experts, financial experts, forensic accountants, counsellors and family consultants.

Divorce, judicial separation and dissolution: our team of divorce solicitors are highly experienced and will work with our clients to make an informed decision as to which option is appropriate and if so when it would be in their interests to start the process.

Mediation: our mediation team are all experienced family law specialist comprising Sarah Jelly, Jayne Llewelyn, Hazel Manktelow, Gemma HopeKate Elliott,  Mark Harrop, Farhana Shahzady, Louise Buttery and Emily Pain. As a wider team, we advise clients on how mediation can be used as an effective way of resolving family law issues, including arrangements for children.

Financial issues: our family solicitors are highly experienced in complex financial issues and approach their advice holistically and strategically to ensure cases are dealt with in the most appropriate, sensitive and cost-effective way. We aim to adopt a non-adversarial approach to resolving matters and encourage the use of mediation, round table meetings and the collaborative law model. Even when involved in litigation we remain issue focused to ensure the best outcome is achieved in the most cost-effective way.

Cohabitation: we look at all the issues that may impact our client and advise how to address these in the most appropriate, sensitive and cost-effective way. We aim to adopt a non-adversarial approach to resolving matters and encourage the use of family mediation, round table meetings and the collaborative law model.  When cases require it we will litigate but we do so in a solution-focused way.

Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements: we prefer to facilitate pre-relationship agreements using round table meetings or the collaborative model if possible so there can be honest and open discussions, and issues can be explored and reality checked.

Children: we take a solution-focused approach to arrangements for children, involve third party support to improve communication and parenting differences and we work with our clients to find lasting outcomes.

Surrogacy: our specialist surrogacy team are experienced in advising on the different aspects of surrogacy.  We help same-sex and heterosexual couples both married and unmarried and from diverse backgrounds and cultures. We can assist with surrogacy planning, parental order applications, surrogacy disputes, international surrogacy issues, immigration and British nationality for children born abroad.

Brighton (head office)
Hampshire (North and South)

Number of partners: 7 directors

Total staff: 28 members of staff, including 20 qualified lawyers, 2 paralegals, 6 in the administration team.

Founding Director, Divorce/Finance, Arbitration Robert Williams
Founding Director Alan Larkin
Director, Divorce/Finance, Collaborative Law, Cohabitation, Children Lisa Burton-Durham
Director, Divorce/Finance, Collaborative Law, Mediation, Surrogacy, Children Gemma Hope
Director, Divorce/Finance, Collaborative Law, Mediation, Cohabitation, Pre-nuptial agreements, Children Mark Harrop
Divorce/Finance, Mediation Sarah Jelly
Divorce/Finance, Mediation, Children Kate Elliott
Divorce/Finance, Mediation, Children Farhana Shahzady
Divorce/Finance, Mediation Hazel Manktelow
Divorce/Finance, Mediation Jayne Llewelyn
Divorce/Finance, Mediation Louise Buttery
Divorce/Finance Chris Maulkin
Divorce/Finance Gemma Garrett
Divorce/Finance Polly Dallyn
Divorce/Finance Emily Pain
Divorce/Finance Rachel Nicholl
Divorce/Finance Charlotte Plowman
Divorce/Finance Mimi Hadley
Divorce/Finance Hattie Gibson
Divorce/Finance Rosa Schofield
Mrs Lisa Burton-Durham  photo Mrs Lisa Burton-Durham Head of Brighton team, Chartered Legal Executive & Collaborative Lawyer
Hattie Gibson  photo Hattie Gibson Solicitor
Gemma Hope  photo Gemma Hope Director, Solicitor and Collaborative Lawyer
Mr Alan Larkin  photo Mr Alan Larkin Founding Director, Head of Innovation & Technology/Solicitor & Collaborative Lawyer
Jayne Llewelyn  photo Jayne Llewelyn Consultant, Mediator, Solicitor, Collaborative Lawyer
Mr Christopher Maulkin  photo Mr Christopher Maulkin Senior Associate, Solicitor & Collaborative Lawyer
Emily Pain  photo Emily Pain Consultant, Solicitor
Eleanor Pollard photo Eleanor PollardSolicitor.
Sarah-Jane Riddell photo Sarah-Jane RiddellSenior Associate Solicitor, Collaborative Lawyer & Mediator
Zoë Summers photo Zoë SummersConsultant, Solicitor & Collaborative Lawyer
Mr Robert Williams photo Mr Robert WilliamsFounding Director, Solicitor, Collaborative Lawyer & Arbitrator
Number of UK partners : 7
Number of other UK fee-earners : 13
Family Law Advanced Panel
Law Society Family Law Accreditation

Diversity at Family Law Partners

FLP is committed to valuing diversity and seeks to provide all Employees with the opportunity for employment, career and personal development on the basis of ability, qualifications and suitability for the work as well as their potential to be developed into the job.

We believe that people from different backgrounds can bring fresh ideas, thinking and approaches which make the way work is undertaken more effective and efficient.

FLP will not tolerate direct or indirect discrimination against any person on grounds of age, disability, gender / gender reassignment, marriage / civil partnership, pregnancy / maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation whether in the field of recruitment, terms and conditions of employment, career progression, training, transfer or dismissal.

It is also the responsibility of all Employees in their daily actions, decisions and behaviour to endeavour to promote these concepts, to comply with all relevant legislation and to ensure that they do not discriminate against colleagues, clients, suppliers or any other person associated with FLP.

Our Responsibility Agenda

Family Law Partners is committed to operating as a socially responsible business. We work hard to drive the firm forward in a sustainable way, which for us means keeping an eye firmly on our role as an employer, a member of our local and legal business community, and an agent of change on the national stage supporting access to justice.

Our responsibility agenda covers four key pillars – the Family Law Partners’ team, access to justice, the communities in which we work and our environmental impact.

Our people

We want Family Law Partners to be a great place to work for our staff. We understand that a happy team leads to satisfied clients through the delivery of exceptional customer service. We give our staff the freedom to work in a flexible way with the freedom to expand and grow their roles.

We were one of the first family teams in the country to resource a dedicated external counsellor to support team wellbeing which in turn enables a better service to clients. Our reflective practice model allows team members to explore the dynamics between us and our clients, and encourages our team to build their relationships with each other.

Access to justice

In 2014 we launched ‘Engage’, probably the world’s first virtual family lawyer, to help our clients prepare, free of charge, for their initial, crucial consultation with us, ensuring we could provide bespoke advice from the first minute.

We also created a free child maintenance calculator because of our frustration with the limitations of the official calculator utilised by the Child Maintenance Service.

In 2020, when the challenges of Covid became apparent, we shared Engage with other lawyers and their clients free of charge on our innovation platform called Family Law Lab. We presently have 50 firms across England & Wales utilising Engage.

Diversity and talent

In April 2021 we marked our 10-year anniversary by announcing the creation of a £36,000 scholarship fund with the University of Brighton’s Business & Law School to support candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds to study law.

The scholarship programme will provide economic support for six local law students during the entirety of their undergraduate studies. Additionally, we will provide mentoring opportunities through our family law specialists to help prepare students for future legal careers.

Our community

We are proud supporters of UK charity Magic Breakfast who provide healthy, nutritious breakfasts to 31,000 children each day in 467 schools across England. We donate £5.00 for every feedback questionnaire our clients complete, helping to improve learning for the most disadvantaged children, a better classroom experience for all and improved outcomes for the wider community.

Our environmental footprint

We are committed to reducing our environmental impact both at a firm level and at an individual level through encouraging positive behaviour change among our team.

One of our objectives (from launch in April 2011) was to become a truly paperless business, and we have taken proactive steps to move towards this. For example, we encourage electronic forms of communication and document sharing this approach delivers an environmental saving but also responds to our clients wishes to communicate with us electronically.

Our major environmental impacts are energy use, consumption of materials e.g. paper, and transport emissions. We are committed to recycling and encourage the team to travel via public transport (or via lift-shares) wherever possible.

We ensure that environmental considerations are taken into consideration in our purchasing decisions and have decided not to print marketing collateral and literature. Instead, we promote our services via online channels and social media networks, and make client resources (such as factsheets) available as online downloads rather than hard copies.

CLIENT: Anonymous
COMPANY/FIRM: Family Law Partners
TESTIMONIAL: I cannot thank you enough for your support over the last few years. It has been a prolonged and distressing process, but you kept me sane in the darkest periods, and I am very grateful for your no-nonsense but compassionate approach, which made it all a bit easier to cope with. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you to anyone. Although I wouldn’t wish the situation on my worst enemy, you help make it less traumatic.

CLIENT: Anonymous
COMPANY/FIRM: Family Law Partners
TESTIMONIAL: Kate Elliott is a dedicated, reliable and extremely competent lawyer who puts the client first. I am so happy with Kate’s help and professionalism. I was thoroughly recommend her and her practice. Thank you, Kate.

CLIENT: Anonymous
COMPANY/FIRM: Family Law Partners
TESTIMONIAL: Thank you Lisa for all your help, advice and support through the long and (at times) painful journey of my divorce and its completion with the sale of the house. It was an experience and without your constant support, both professionally and emotionally, it would have been an even more difficult time, and for that I thank you immensely.

CLIENT: Anonymous
COMPANY/FIRM: Family Law Partners
TESTIMONIAL: A heartfelt thank you for everything you guys have put into this. I don’t need to explain much more, I know you get it and the impact that this has been having on us. I know you have spent your days, evening and weekends on this and I am very grateful. I can’t thank you enough for all your hours of support and advice.

CLIENT: Anonymous
COMPANY/FIRM: Family Law Partners
TESTIMONIAL: Kate Elliott is quite simply a phenomenal family solicitor. From the very first meeting to getting to a resolution she has always been strong, supportive, smart and incredibly human. I wouldn’t have any hesitation in recommending her and the team at the Family Law Partners.

CLIENT: Anonymous
COMPANY/FIRM: Family Law Partners
TESTIMONIAL: Gemma has excellent knowledge in her field, along with a very personable nature. I felt that she has always given me the best possible advice and service and I completely trusted her judgement and ability. Gemma made sure I was aware of all my legal requirements, what would happen next, and answered all my questions quickly. This constant reassurance paved the way to ensure that a fair and amicable agreement was made with the knowledge that my dependants, assets and future income where safe and secure.