Family Law Services at Penningtons Manches

What people say about us

Family law

The legal directories

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is particularly well-known for its work on complex high-net-worth financial cases. It has specialist expertise in acting for trust companies, family offices and other third parties that are either joined or obliged to intervene in financial remedy applications. Through Jane Craig, the team also boasts considerable skill in advising on the issues facing cohabitants and can advise on cohabitation agreements, property ownership and children issues. The team is also recommended for its work on cross-border disputes involving children and has recently noticed an increased amount of work on cases involving the international relocation of children. James Stewart is also well regarded and Elizabeth Carson was promoted to the partnership.

Rebecca Carlyon and Anna Worwood are also leading individuals.

Veronica Gilmour handles complex financial issues, often with challenging jurisdictional complications and is also an expert on foreign pensions. Rachel Donald is an expert on pre-nuptial agreements and cases where company assets are involved, and Lee Henderson has experience of surrogacy cases.

Jane Mitchell handles complex financial and children matters with a specialisation in international trusts and company arrangements. Kerry Fretwell in Reading and Ruth James in Oxford are the other key partners. Associates Bethan Thomas and Stuart Webber are also of note.

The Legal 500 - 2020 edition

At Penningtons Manches LLP James Stewart is ‘renowned for tricky international cases’ and Anna Worwood is ‘one of the go-to lawyers for complex children disputes’. Jane Craig heads the team, which has ‘fantastic strength and depth not only in the partners but also the associates. Every case is well managed at the practice’. Gillian Rivers is ‘technically superb’ for both financial remedy and children cases. Rivers ‘combines charm and an ability to reach favourable settlements for her clients with a willingness to litigate forcefully on their behalf when necessary’. Rebecca Carlyon is skilled on advising on both financial and children issues that arise on relationship breakdown. The team has been expanding. The ‘outstanding’ Linzi Bull recently joined and is known for her ‘good people skills. She is a first-class case runner'. Edward Floyd was promoted to partner.


Penningtons Manches LLP [in Guildford] fields a team that is ‘very able and in turn very strong’. It routinely attracts cases involving multi-million pounds of corporate and other assets, trusts and pensions, including those located in overseas jurisdictions as well as nuptial agreements and child location disputes. Veronica Gilmour, who leads the team ‘has a superb reputation' and 'a combination of intellect, soft skills and gravitas’. Rachel Donald, who is considered ‘without doubt a star of the future’, handles complex financial remedy matters, wealth protection and child arrangement disputes. Senior associate Laura Hughes and associate Lee Henderson are highly recommended for their excellent client handling skills.


Penningtons Manches LLP is ‘an outstanding firm offering real quality to rival the top end of the London market’. The family practices in the firm’s Reading and Oxford offices are headed by Kerry Fretwell and Jane Mitchell respectively. Fretwell specialises in acting for high net-worth individuals on a range of cases, including financial settlements between unmarried parents, and acting for intervenors, while Mitchell is widely considered to be the go-to person for financial cases and disputes regarding child arrangement orders. ‘Tenacious fighter and good lawyer’ Ruth James' practice focuses on resolving financial settlements between separating couples and arrangements for children. Also noted are senior associate Bethan Thomas (‘amazing; she is patient, kind and considerate, with her knowledge and expertise particularly reassuring’) and associate Stuart Webber ('a measured and reassuring lawyer').

The Legal 500 - 2019 edition

Penningtons Manches Cooper is held in high regard in family law. The firm's family department advises on complex financial and children proceedings arising from divorce. It also advises on nuptial and cohabitation agreements, often with an international dimension.

A client says that "they are well connected internationally and always managed to source the best individuals with relevant local expertise to help strengthen the case we were putting forward."

Chambers High Net Worth - 2020 edition

Versatile outfit engaged in a wide range of high-level family law matters, including cross-border financial remedies and challenging child relocation. Exhibits strength in collaborative and ADR methods. Houses notable experience across complex, high-value financial litigation.

Strengths: Commentators say: ‘It is a very good all-round firm, dealing with both children and financial claims.’

‘I felt I was in very capable hands,’ says a source. ‘They explained everything to me clearly and provided me with all the support I needed.’

Notable practitioners
The ‘hugely experienced’ Jane Craig heads the department and is highly regarded for her expertise in both financial and children law matters, including Schedule 1 claims. She is also highlighted for her handling of complex international cases.

Simon Blain is increasingly involved in complex matrimonial work involving both finance issues and children law. He is also experienced as a mediator and is noted for his commitment to collaborative approaches. Sources note that he is ‘very good with clients’ and ‘very steady, thorough and easily accessible’.

Rachel Donald has particular expertise in the drafting of nuptial and cohabitation agreements among a broader matrimonial practice. She is also well versed in private children disputes, including leave to remove matters.

Kerry Fretwell is a highly regarded practitioner, advising clients on financial remedy matters involving business interests, trusts and pensions. ‘She gave me clear, understandable advice during each meeting and I never felt rushed into making decisions,’ a client says. Another source describes her as ‘amazingly calm, with a lot of technical knowledge and highly experienced.’

Veronica Gilmour earns praise for a broad range of skills which she employs across a wide range of private family law issues, including both children and financial matters. ‘She has a wealth of knowledge and experience and really cares about her clients. She gives very sound advice and is a calming influence,’ according to interviewees. Her expertise includes Part III applications as well as complex pension arrangements.

Ruth James handles both financial and children matters and is particularly skilled at advising on international relocation cases. ‘She discussed with me all the possible options. That helped me very much to take a decision,’ a client says.  

Jane Mitchell has a strong track record in financial disputes and child arrangement matters. She regularly handles cross-border cases. ‘She is very good at providing context, removing irrelevancies and directing through to a conclusion,’ a source reports.

James Stewart attracts some of the highest-value family law cases and is well versed in matters involving multi-jurisdictional issues. Sources describe him as ‘a very good strategic lawyer - he thinks around his cases and how to get the right result for his clients.’ He is also an experienced arbitrator.

Anna Worwood ‘is really good with clients and has amazing attention to detail,’ according to one interviewee who also describes her as ‘the best partner I have worked with for some time.’ She has extensive expertise in financial issues as well as private children matters such as international relocation.

Tammy Knox is highly regarded for her work on cross-border children matters, including wardship, leave to remove and abduction cases. Commentators say: ‘She is vigorous, intelligent, personable, enthusiastic and indefatigable in her pursuit of a case. She is a very good person to have on your side.’

Chambers UK - 2018 edition

Versatile outfit engaged in a wide range of high-level family law matters, including cross-border financial remedies and challenging child relocation. Exhibits strength in collaborative and alternative dispute resolution methods.

Strengths: ‘There was seamless, harmonious teamwork. They were quick to analyse new ideas and strategies, and were very responsive to me and to one another.’

‘The service offered is second to none in the area.’

‘Their preparation is immaculate and their advice to clients is always spot-on. They are really very impressive.’

Notable practitioners
Jane Craig has considerable experience in family law and heads the firm's department. She has particular strength in complex matrimonial finance and child relocation matters. Sources say she is a ‘champion of her client,’ with one adding that she ‘continually impressed me with the application of her experience, intelligence, flexibility, judgement, understanding and commitment.’

James Stewart is said to be a ‘focused, measured and exceedingly thorough’ matrimonial finance practitioner. He is held in high regard for his international practice, representing high-profile and high net worth clients in proceedings involving complex asset-tracing and jurisdictional conflicts. He is noted for his strength as an arbitrator. 

Anna Worwood is renowned for her dual expertise in both complex financial disputes and children proceedings. Peers say that she is an ‘excellent, exceptionally technical lawyer with a strong grasp of the human element.’ Sources go on to say she is ‘quick on the uptake, pragmatic, looks after her clients and gets to a viable settlement without faffing.’ 

Rachel Donald 'is attentive to client care aspects and thinks laterally and outside of the box,' according to market sources. She acts in both matrimonial finance and children law cases, specialising in applications for maintenance variations and the enforcement of orders.

Veronica Gilmour is well known for her work on high-value financial disputes and leave to remove applications in children cases. Sources are impressed by ‘her forensic way of dealing with things.’ 

Ruth James is a ‘very able lawyer with meticulous attention to detail’... She is well regarded for her work in complex and high-value financial remedy matters, and has experience in international relocation and surrogacy cases. 

Jane Mitchell advises on Schedule 1 proceedings and child contact orders, as well as challenging financial remedy matters. Sources are quick to highlight her ‘superb intellect and charming manner with clients.’ 

Kerry Fretwell handles high-value financial remedy matters involving business interests, trusts, agricultural land and pensions. Her practice also includes acting for parents in contact and residence disputes, as well as financial settlements between unmarried parents. She is praised as ‘a very good tactician’ who has ‘a quiet, calm authority.’

Chambers UK - 2017 edition

Return to Family law

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP