Divorce, separation and finances
We have a long-established reputation for achieving outstanding results for our clients, particularly in complex cases and those with an international angle.Our award-winning team of family lawyers has acted in numerous landmark cases in the courts of London, Hong Kong, Singapore and California, and has been involved in the development of the law in these locations.
Establishing strategy early on
Clients tell us that one of the main reasons they were glad they chose us is because of the way we approach our first meeting with them. We believe it is vital to establish the realistic objectives for your case from the outset and to set a clear strategy to achieve them. It is not uncommon for firms to win work by telling clients what they want to hear, but we see it as essential to be candid in advising you on what you will be able to achieve and setting out viable options for reaching those goals – whether through a privately negotiated agreement (either directly, through mediation, a collaborative law process or a bespoke combination with Uncouple), or if necessary through arbitration or court litigation.
Divorce law reform in England and Wales – no fault divorceNew legislation came into force in April 2022 that will make divorce a simpler and less acrimonious process by removing blame for the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership. This is often important when couples need to maintain connection to share childcare. It will also allow couples to apply for divorce jointly for the first time. You can find more information here to help decide what’s best for you.
Trusts are widely used by families as a way to protect their assets for future generations. We work with clients, trustees and beneficiaries in the preparation of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, on which we have enormous experience, and which form an integral part of wealth protection planning.
Trust related cases
Understandably, during a divorce there can be strong disagreement over how trusts and other wealth structures should be dealt with. We have considerable experience in advising trustees, beneficiaries and other family members caught up in divorce proceedings.
We have the benefit of being able to consult with one of the largest, leading wealth planning and contentious trust teams based globally across the US, Caribbean, Europe and Asia. With colleagues also in corporate, employment, property and reputation management teams we have the experience and the skill sets to protect your trust interests, family businesses and inherited wealth or alternatively, when required, to trace assets and probe wealth holding structures.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
19 January 2024 | Article
Hong Kong: The vital role of grandparents in times of family conflict and transition
28 November 2023 | Event
Seminar | Navigating societal transformations in divorce proceedings and children's rights
Join the club
We have lots more news and information that you'll find informative and useful. Let us know what you're interested in and we'll keep you up to date on the issues that matter to you.
Typical clients and industries include
Beneficiaries and heirsWhatever you have inherited, and wherever it is in the world, our leading team of lawyers can help you to protect the value of the asset, manage the tax implications and resolving any disputes. 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
Leaders and senior executivesWe help business leaders to manage their responsibilities at work and home – from advising on employment contracts and regulatory matters, to dealing with tax, wills and prenuptial agreements. Find Out More
How else can we help?
We offer a full range of services to individuals and businesses. Find out how we can help you solve challenges and maximize opportunities.
Get in touch
Our website will give you a flavour of the advice we provide - if you would like to talk to us for more information, please contact our client services team who will be happy to assist.