Family Law Services at Penningtons Manches

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: 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

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'. 

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.

The Legal 500 - 2019 edition

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.

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

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