Family law

Particularly well known for its expertise in complex financial cases, those involving children and international cases.

Chambers UK

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Family Law Services at Penningtons Manches

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What people say about us

Family law

The legal directories

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. Strong matrimonial offering augmented by in-house expertise in related issues of tax and trust law.

Strengths: A commentator notes: ‘They all work incredibly hard and are bright and helpful. It's a very good team.’

One market commentator says: ‘The firm is a sparkling collection of successful and empathetic family lawyers.’

A client comments: ‘Penningtons Manches Cooper has an impressive cohort of family lawyers. A real strength in the team appears to be the ability to work together cohesively to ensure the best possible outcome for the clients.’

Notable practitioners

Linzi Bull: ‘She is a standout, incredibly able solicitor. She is pragmatic and won't fight a case unless it needs to be fought, while also being tenacious.’ ‘She's very astute and emotionally intelligent.’ ‘She's smart, intuitive and has really good client care skills.’

Rebecca Carlyon: ‘She is a very good advocate.’ ‘She is highly regarded and very competent.’

Jane Craig: ‘Her sense of analysis is extremely firm and her quiet, effective manner inspires confidence in clients.’ ‘She has a logical, chess-like ability to see three moves ahead because of her ability and experience.’

Rachel Donald: ‘A standout solicitor in her ability to be creative in solving problems.’ ‘She is incredibly technically astute and constructive in the way she handles matters.’

Sarah Duckworth: ‘A far-reaching grasp of family law and an astute awareness of personal needs.’

Kerry Fretwell: ‘She is a brilliant, solutions-orientated strategist and has a detailed knowledge of the law.’

Veronica Gilmour: ‘She is one of those very experienced, very calm and collected individuals who is tough on behalf of her clients but willing to work hard to compromise.’

Ruth James: ‘She is a first-class finance and children lawyer. She is incredibly bright but also very human, and so she is able to bring a really rounded approach to her cases.’

Tammy Knox: ‘She is swift to respond to correspondence and is well connected within the profession. …She takes the time to understand issues as fully as she can before proceeding.’ ‘She really knows her stuff in terms of international abduction law.’

Jane Mitchell: ‘Jane Mitchell was absolutely fantastic and very supportive.’

James Stewart: ‘He is really good at strategy and seeing the bigger picture. He has a lot of knowledge in international children law issues.’ ‘He is a very good champion for his clients and they feel well looked after by him.’ ‘He is very well known, very able and very persuasive.’

Anna Worwood: ‘She provides top-class service and absolutely top-notch delivery because she has so much experience but at the same time she is very caring and thoughtful towards the clients.’ ‘She exhibits a great balance of sensitivity and legal depth.’ ‘A relocation expert who is calm and unflappable.’

Chambers UK – 2022 edition

‘An excellent firm with an excellent reputation. This firm has a wide breadth of individuals to suit any case – from the complex, high net worth case to the more straightforward middle money case.’

Penningtons Manches Cooper has a powerhouse team of lawyers that are leaders in the field across multiple areas of children law. It always goes the extra mile to provide a Rolls Royce service to clients, which translates to exceptional preparation of cases for trial.’

‘The firm is a sparkling collection of successful and empathetic family lawyers.’

Rebecca Carlyon: ‘Not only an extremely expert legal professional, but also has excellent interpersonal skills – an absolutely vital combination in the sector of family law.’

Bethan Carr is not afraid of giving clients difficult advice, which is important as there are some solicitors in other firms who tend to leave this to counsel which can result in the client feeling as though their counsel is not understanding or supportive of their case.’

Elizabeth Carson – a serene influence on a case. Very good at handling difficult cases with vulnerable clients. She is immensely supportive of the client and of everyone else on the legal team.’

Jane Craig has a wealth of experience dealing with complex, big money cases. She is completely unflappable and is a real character in the financial remedy world - she is great fun to work with; but irritatingly persistent if she is on the other side.’

Rachel Donald is exceptionally approachable and behind her relaxed approach is a sharp case analysis with a good ability to think outside of the box and come up with sensible solutions.’

Kerry Fretwell leads the team at the Reading office. She has an excellent knowledge of the law, is excellent with clients and is always able to give pragmatic and sensible advice.’

Veronica Gilmour successfully combines her commanding leadership of the department [in Guildford] with an ability to dedicate time and attention to her individual clients, to ensure that they receive an unparalleled level of service. She is excellent in every way.’

Ruth James manages to combine acute legal acumen and emotional empathy to create a winning combination that provides her clients with first-rate support and representation.’

Tammy Knox was absolutely invaluable…Her knowledge is fantastic and she managed to make sure that this was as stressless as possible.’

Jane Mitchell is one of the top family law solicitors in Oxford. I regard her as outstanding.’

Kate Molan – extremely hardworking, intelligent and a very safe pair of hands.’

Laura Naser is hard-working, passionate and strong in support of clients. Goes that extra mile and is incredibly talented.’

‘It is a firm that excels in international family law matters, in large part because of James Stewart’s longstanding editorship of ‘Family Global Guide’ now covering 56 jurisdictions and also because of the fact many of the partners are members of the IAFL (International Academy of Family Lawyers).’

‘James Stewart – a leading light in international family law.’

Anna Worwood and Lucy Clarke are superb practitioners. Anna Worwood is at the top of her game with an enviable client list. She has great experience but also excellent judgement and the best client care skills of anyone in London. She is also smart and canny. Lucy is super efficient and has a mastery of every detail of her case.’

The Legal 500 - 2022 edition

Strengths: One source reports: 'They were fantastic. They really have very good relations and kept me informed at every stage.'

Another comments: 'The team is great. They communicated well and very effectively, they took a lot of ownership of the case and I genuinely felt that they were working for me.'

One client reports: 'The team put me at ease and inspired confidence at every step. I never felt any doubt that they knew what they were doing and always felt that they had my best interests at heart.'

Notable practitioners
Jane Craig is praised by commentators for her skilled handling of divorce proceedings. She is regularly instructed by high net worth individuals on domestic and international maintenance disputes. 'She is a very effective litigator and negotiator.'

Linzi Bull frequently acts on matters spanning multiple jurisdictions, fielding experience in areas such as surrogacy and divorce proceedings. She has recent experience in representing same-sex couples and transgender clients in parental registration cases. 'Linzi is at the cutting edge of family law.'

Rachel Donald has a broad family law practice, advising clients on complex financial and children-related disputes relating to divorce. She has notable strength in matters that have cross-border aspects.

Reading-based Kerry Fretwell is 'very knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with,' according to a client. She advises on a range of financial matters including high-value divorce proceedings and the negotiation of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. She also assists clients with private children law matters.

Veronica Gilmour elicits praise for her expertise in high-value matrimonial finance cases and is also adept at handling Children Act proceedings. Sources describe her as a 'very pragmatic practitioner who works with you to find solutions,' and further praise her 'forward-thinking and client-focused' approach.

Ruth James is based in the firm's Oxford office, and frequently advises clients on complex matrimonial financial disputes involving overseas assets and trusts, as well as tax and business concerns. She also advises on matters concerning child contact and residence orders, including cross-border cases.

Tammy Knox is skilled in both financial and children proceedings. She often takes on cross-border abduction and Schedule 1 matters, as well as issues involving complex points of European law. 'She is very organised, knowledgeable and calm, and she writes very well. She's really impressive and effective.'

Jane Mitchell is based in Oxford and comes highly recommended by sources, who say: 'She is enormously experienced, has fantastic judgement and is always very thorough and careful in both her preparation and her consideration of the issues that arise.' She advises clients on divorce proceedings and related financial disputes, as well as on Schedule 1 Children Act matters and the creation of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.

James Stewart tackles high-value, multi-jurisdictional matrimonial finance cases on behalf of ultra high net worth individuals. He regularly handles financial remedy and ancillary relief proceedings that involve offshore assets. 'He is formidable, knowledgeable and a real presence in the market.'

Anna Worwood is renowned in the market for handling complex cross-border matters, notably private children cases. She advises clients on financial remedy applications in addition to international relocation and abduction matters. 'She has a very strong children practice and she's one of the go-to names for private law children disputes.'

Chambers UK - 2021 edition

With Jane Craig and James Stewart at the helm, the team at Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is highly recommended for its expertise in complex and high-value financial cases, both nationally and internationally. It is experienced in advising on marital agreements and financial claims following an overseas divorce, as well as advising trustees, family offices and other third parties on financial remedy matters. Another area of expertise is the international relocation of children, including applications for the return of children under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. In addition, its ‘modern families’ unit has seen an increase in instructions relating to surrogacy, legal issues surrounding assisted reproduction techniques and LGBTQ+ families. The team was strengthened by the arrival of Amanda Andrews in April 2020.

Jane Craig always impresses: she has undoubted legal and tactical intelligence but also emotional intelligence.

Linzi Bull is a legal superstar. She is at the cutting edge of interesting family law work, as her cases often involve complex jurisdictional issues (both in matrimonial finance and in private law children work). 

Matilda Kingham gets the work done in a quiet, efficient manner. Her memory recall is impressive. She is calm and totally dedicated to her client.

Tammy Knox is able to develop a rapport with clients in a very easy manner. She is strategic in her legal planning, which has a positive outcome to her cases.

Anna Worwood goes from strength to strength and is a class operator. She brings a calm and astute perspective to cases; her clients love her and one can see why.

The practice [in Guildford] is led by the experienced and 'stand-out' Veronica Gilmour. Rachel Donald offers particular expertise in pre-nuptial agreements. Associates Laura Hughes, Laura Naser and Lee Henderson are also praised by clients; Hughes is praised for her 'good judgement and practicality', while Naser has 'fantastic client care skills'. Henderson, 'a rising star', has been particularly active in matters involving surrogacy.

Practice head [in Oxford] Jane Mitchell's expertise in complex financial cases and difficult disputes concerning arrangements for children attracts an international client base. Kerry Fretwell [Reading] is a trained mediator and has experience of Schedule One applications for unmarried parents. 

Jane Mitchell and Ruth James are both impressive brains and have the legal experience to match.

Kerry Fretwell is very good at thinking about what is really going on and is important in a case.

The Legal 500 - 2021 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

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. 

The Legal 500 - 2020 edition

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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