Divorce and family lawyers
When facing difficult moments in life, you need the best advice available. We're here to help.
As one of the world’s largest and most experienced teams of family and divorce lawyers, we have shaped the law and created our own flexible approach to separation.
If you have a relationship issue, our family lawyers will give you clear direction and solutions from the very start.We know that whatever your circumstances are, you want your situation handled with the utmost sensitivity, discretion and expertise.
We are leaders in family law
One of the largest, longest established teams of family and divorce lawyers in the world, top-ranked in England and Hong Kong for over 20 years
We also have skilled teams in Singapore and California
We’ve consistently created ground-breaking new law in reported cases, and were founders in the introduction of family mediation and arbitration
We’ve created a unique approach to separation called Uncouple – a flexible way for you to separate using only one law firm
What this means is that our experience and skills will deliver the right result for you.
Are we the right team for you?
We work with:
- Clients from around the world
- Those with cases involving significant financial or emotional complexity
- Founders and entrepreneurs
- High and ultra-high net worth individuals
- Professionals from all walks of life
- Leaders in commerce, entertainment and sporting worlds
- Family offices and/or trustees
Get in touch with us to find out more about our services and fee structures.
Evolving families around the worldEnsuring family is protected and provided for motivates us all to prepare for the future. Each family has its own needs and in a fast-changing world, with many families based across several locations, it can be challenging to address all of the risks and complexities.
With the right guidance, planning for tomorrow can deliver long term protection.
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Multi-billionaire businessman ordered to return 53 olive trees during divorce proceedings
Following substantial financial proceedings after their divorce, our client's husband removed a significant number of mature olive trees from a plot of land to be transferred to our client. The court found that the husband (who had previously told 'outright lies' to the court) was responsible for the uprooting of the trees, and was motivated by 'pure spite'. He was ordered to return them and to pay our client's costs.
Divorce involves a forum dispute between Hong Kong and Australia
We successfully acted for the husband to defeat the wife's application for a stay on the basis that Australia was the more appropriate jurisdiction. The Court of Appeal considered the factors the court should bear in mind when dealing with such challenges. At the time, it was a landmark case and is regularly quoted to this day on the topic of forum non conveniens.
Establishing fair division of assets on divorce
Miller v Miller is a seminal House of Lords decision that shaped the current law in relation to financial provision on divorce. This case established the three strands which should be considered in all future claims: needs, compensation and sharing. We represented Melissa Miller throughout these proceedings, and successfully defended her former husband's appeal, so that our client retained her £5 million settlement following their very short marriage.
Highest child maintenance award secured in Hong Kong
We acted for the mother and child in Hong Kong under the Guardianship of Minors Ordinance, achieving for our client the highest award for such child maintenance to date.
Landmark Court of Appeal case concerning the importance of children's wishes
We acted on a landmark Court of Appeal case concerning the removal of children and which reviewed the law on habitual residence under the Hague Convention: LCYP v JEK. The case dealt with the importance of the children's wishes and removed the previous test in respect of the parent's agreement and intention.
Removal of a child from Hong Kong to the US
Our team led a case which reached the Hong Kong Court of Appeal concerning the issue of the removal of a child from Hong Kong to the US. This case was interesting because the orders in respect of the children had been made by the courts in Singapore where the children were born and where the father continued to reside. However, the mother and children had lived in Hong Kong for a number of years and therefore we sought an order through the courts there. The court reluctantly refused jurisdiction on the basis that it would not be in the children's best interest if there were multiple jurisdictions involved.
Achieving settlement to end maintenance payments
As our client approached retirement, following a long and distinguished career as a barrister, he applied to terminate the maintenance payments he had been ordered to pay to his first wife for life. His former wife sought a lump sum payment of £560,000 in lieu of ongoing maintenance. The case went to the Court of Appeal, who established that the potential claims of a second wife cannot take priority over the first wife's claims and ordered a payment of £215,000 (less than half the amount she initially sought).
Appealing international relocation with children
Our client, who shared the care of his two children with his former wife, opposed her application to relocate to Canada permanently with them. We represented him in the Court of Appeal and successfully overturned the initial decision, so his former wife did not have permission to leave with the children. The decision marked an influential development in the court's approach to applications to relocate abroad with children.
Complex high value divorce leads to a change in the law in Hong Kong
We acted for the husband in a high value divorce, which involved a conflict in jurisdiction between Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China. The matter reached The Court of Final Appeal and led to a change in Hong Kong law, introducing new legislation to allow a party who had a divorce in another jurisdiction to seek a financial remedy in Hong Kong where applicable. This is an important measure protecting those who would be unfairly prejudiced by an overseas divorce.
Confirming that the welfare of children is paramount
We acted for the mother in her application for permission to relocate to Russia with the two children. This decision re-iterated what the Court of Appeal had said in MK v CK, that the only principle to apply is the welfare principle, but in this case the Court decided that our client should be given permission to relocate.
Court of Appeal defence of credit crunch award
A property developer's business suffered huge losses when the financial crisis hit, and we acted for him in his divorce negotiations with his wife, heiress of a business empire. Our team helped the husband defend the allocation of an equal split of the couple's finances, plus an extra £5 million lump sum payment to the husband to cover half of his property losses.
Disentangling complex structures to achieve a settlement
We acted for the wife in OS v DS. Her husband had failed to make proper disclosure of his financial resources. We assisted in establishing an innovative court procedure so that the judge could carry out a 'preliminary/oral discovery' hearing. We were then able to settle the case resulting in a positive outcome for our client. This procedure has since been used in many other cases and is now known as an 'OS v DS hearing'.
Divorce case dealing with trust, share valuation and non-matrimonial asset issues
We delivered a comprehensive result for the wife in X v X . We successfully argued that her husband’s interest in a trust should be considered a resource of his and included in the marital assets available for division. The case also involved complex issues of assessing the contributions made by the husband and the wife during the marriage, the valuation of shares in a listed company, and the extent of non-matrimonial assets.
Four year battle for full disclosure
We represented Lisa Tchenguiz in a lengthy, complex, high profile divorce which resulted in a change in the law on disclosure and confidentiality of documents in divorce proceedings; and also produced additional decisions in relation to the joinder of trust beneficiaries to financial proceedings on divorce. The Court of Appeal ruled that unauthorized access to a former spouse's personal documents breached a duty of confidentiality. The judgment has been described by some as a cheat's charter and an obstacle to transparency.
Hong Kong team act in a landmark high value cross border divorce
A cross border team acted for an ultra high net worth client in an exceptionally complex divorce, involving company structures and multiple third parties, offshore trusts and multi million dollar assets in a number of jurisdictions. We obtained the highest ever award for interim maintenance in Hong Kong.
Protecting family wealth in a US-Canadian marriage
The child of a wealthy Canadian family moved to the United States and married. We advised the family on protecting their assets and created trust structures sufficiently flexible to grow with the child and the child's emergent new family needs, while avoiding inclusion in the child's US estate and minimizing a potential divorce settlement payout. This included optimizing various in-bound real estate investments as the family purchased, exchanged and extensively renovated properties.
Special contribution argument in record value case
We acted for Sir Chris Hohn in what was then the highest value divorce case. He had generated his wealth through huge success in investment management, and had also established a charitable foundation which achieved international recognition in its field. We successfully argued that the marital assets should not be equally divided, in part due to his 'special contribution' to their generation. Mrs Cooper-Hohn was awarded 36% of the total.
Special contribution to a marriage's resources
We acted for advertising and marketing giant WPP's CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell, in his divorce case, which is one of the very few in which the judges accepted the argument that his 'exceptional contribution' to the marriage's finances was sufficient to justify an unequal division of the couple's assets. Sir Martin was awarded 60% of the assets, with no ongoing maintenance payments.
Successfully arguing division based on contribution
John Charman is a leading figure in the international insurance industry, and we represented him in his divorce. During their 27 year marriage the Charmans had accumulated assets of c£131 million. The family fortune was held directly and via a Bermuda-based trust. The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court decision that Mr Charman's exceptional success in business should result in a 63/37% split in his favor.
The Hong Kong Court of Appeal rules that trusts are subject to division
In Kan Lai Kwan v Poon Lok To Otto, the law in relation to trusts was clarified and the principles in the English case of Charman were confirmed to be an appropriate precedent in Hong Kong. The court found that the trusts could be subject to division as, should the settlor request the trustees to make an advancement to him, they would be likely to do so.
Use of European pre and postnuptial agreements clarified in the Hong Kong courts
A landmark divorce case in Hong Kong involved German pre and postnuptial agreements. The case confirmed that the principles set out in the English Supreme Court case of Radmacher, in respect of prenuptial agreements, would be an appropriate precedent for the Hong Kong courts, and that, if the parties fully understood the implications, they would most likely be bound to their agreements.
The US-born son of a UK businessman
When he became engaged to a Swiss citizen, the son of a high-profile UK businessman asked us to help him obtain a British Passport and expatriate from the US. We were also asked to draft a prenuptial agreement. Timing was of the essence but as a global, full-service firm we created a team of immigration, family and private client lawyers to meet tight deadlines.
Ranked for family/matrimonial: UHNW
The Withers Separation Model: Uncouple
Choosing the best way to sort out the finances and arrangements for children on divorce or separation can be challenging. Another way was needed. So we built it.Find out more
Mariella Frostrup on #ModernRelationships
We've developed a podcast series hosted by Mariella Frostrup that looks at the shape of modern relationships, and discusses a range of approaches to help you when things get tricky. To help protect your home and finances. To have better, more constructive arguments. To manage the process of separation successfully.LISTEN HERE
Relationships can be complex. And the changing world we live in has affected every aspect of them. From dating to living together. From marriage, to civil partnerships. And – of course – having children. We're here to help guide you through the changes that impact modern relationships, offering straightforward advice and solutions that suit you.
Better informed. Better protected.
6 December 2023 | Article
Cryptocurrency in Hong Kong: useful guidance from the family court on issues of disclosure and wanton spending
29 November 2023 | Article
A Vision for Family Justice in England and Wales – we are at a crucial turning point
20 November 2023 | Article
Caught in the middle: approaches to child relocation in England and Wales, Singapore and Hong Kong
9 November 2023 | Article
Why prenuptial agreements are increasingly popular among modern Asian families
28 November 2023 | Event
Seminar | Navigating societal transformations in divorce proceedings and children's rights
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Typical clients and industries include
FoundersFrom advising on tax or global expansion, helping company founders realise their vision is an important aspect of our work. Find Out More
High net worth individualsWith complex interests that often span several jurisdictions, highly successful people need seamless advice. With a full-service offering across our offices around the world, we provide just that. Find Out More
Talent and creativesWe help leading figures from the worlds of sport, music, art and fashion to deal with the implications of their success – advising on everything from tax and trusts to sponsorship agreements. Find Out More
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We offer a full range of services to individuals and businesses. Find out how we can help you solve challenges and maximize opportunities.
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