We provide a highly-specialised service to meet our client’s needs and are renowned for handling complex and high-value divorce and separation matters. We do not offer a “one size fits all” solution but will tailor an individual package to suit a client’s particular circumstances.
We understand that family breakdown can cause shock, uncertainty and destabilisation. We, as experienced Lawyers, can provide you with reassurance, stability and help reach a solution that is right for you.
We are recognised as one of the leading specialist family teams in the North East of England. Our experience and reputation are such that we receive instructions from clients based throughout the country and overseas. No family situation is the same as another. We do not offer a “one size fits all” solution but will tailor an individual package to suit a client’s particular circumstances.
Divorce & Separation
We understand how difficult it can be when relationships breakdown. Our specialist team will work with you to identify what the main issues are likely to be and the best way to reach a resolution.
We will explain to you the options available for divorce/separation such as mediation, collaborative law, arbitration and the Court. Indeed, Jenny Goldstein (Senior Partner), is also a fully accredited Mediator and Arbitrator.
We work with clients across the country and overseas. We can tailor our service to meet your needs and can offer consultations via Skype.
You may be initiating divorce or separation, responding to a divorce petition, or a separation. Whatever the circumstances, we will provide you with a significant advantage and make a vast difference to the process and financial outcome.
We act both for parties seeking to protect their wealth and those wishing to claim their fair entitlement from the financially stronger spouse. You may be or are married to, a high net worth individual. There may be valuable assets at stake, by way of example, businesses, farms or large pensions. Having a divorce solicitor who specialises in complex or high-value financial matters is critical to ensure that the best outcome is achieved.
Children issues & support
We have a wealth of experience in working with clients to resolve children’s issues quickly, in the least hostile manner and putting the welfare of the child first.
The contentious issue is often where the child will live and who will they spend time with (sometimes referred to as custody). Disputes concerning children can be some of the most challenging issues faced by families and the Court.
Our experienced solicitors can help guide you through the best options for you and your children to prevent expensive Court disputes where possible. If making an application to Court becomes necessary, we will advise you on the best approach to your case and provide strong representation and support throughout.
Jenny Goldstein is also a fully accredited Family Law mediator and a child specialist, accredited by national family law organisation, Resolution and the Law Society.
We also provide advice in relation to issues of child support, abduction, adoption and fostering.
Reaching a resolution of financial issues upon divorce can often be complex and require an understanding of business accounts, pensions and trust assets. There is also the issue of company/commercial planning, pension protection, asset distribution and income stabilisation.
Samuel Phillips Law has two highly experienced and expert matrimonial lawyers with over 60 years experience combined. They will approach your case with confidence, knowledge and an unrivalled range of experience, ensuring that the best outcome is achieved.
If you are currently in a civil partnership and your relationship has broken down, it is possible to apply to the Court for it to be dissolved. Dissolving a civil partnership provides the parties with the same entitlements as a spouse who gets divorced.
You can apply for financial provision by way of lump sum, property transfer, maintenance and pension sharing orders. Furthermore, you can also apply for financial provision in respect of any child or children of the family.
A civil partner that seeks dissolution is entitled to not be evicted from the former family home. Each party is also able to apply for an injunction order under the Family Law Act 1996 should there have been domestic violence in the relationship.
Nuptial Agreements and Protection of Assets
A pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement can determine in advance how your assets will be shared should you later separate or divorce.
Production of such documents in advance of marriage or entering into a civil partnership will reduce the financial and emotional trauma that a divorce can bring. It also has the potential to enable you to both move on quickly and ensure that there is provision for the children.
Pre-nuptial agreements are particularly important for high net worth individuals such as footballers, business owners and farming families.
Post-nuptial agreements are similar arrangements drawn up after a couple has married.
It is important to note that pre-nuptial agreements do not remove the jurisdiction of the Court. Notwithstanding this, a decision made by the Supreme Court in 2010, gave far more weight to pre-nuptial agreements.
A recent survey commissioned by Resolution suggested that two-thirds of cohabiting couples are unaware that there is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’. With fewer marriages taking place, cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type in the UK.
Notwithstanding this, there continues to be no legislation in England and Wales that adequately protects such couples on separation or death. This potentially leaves millions of people financially vulnerable if their relationship fails or if their partner dies.
Cohabiting couples can protect themselves by drawing up a cohabitation agreement which sets out intentions for finances, property and care of any children if the relationship breaks down.
If you are thinking of injecting capital into a property that you hold jointly with your partner, or that is held in your partner’s sole name, you should ensure that you have an open discussion about whether it is intended that you will acquire a beneficial interest, or an increased beneficial interest, as a result.
You should then enter into a declaration of trust which expressly sets out the legal and beneficial ownership of the property. If the parties are not married, the Courts will treat this declaration of trust as final.
Cohabitation agreements and declarations of trust avoid confusion and potentially lengthy and expensive litigation later down the line, as the Court does view them as conclusive evidence of the parties’ intentions. The Court will only go behind them if there has been fraud, mistake or undue influence; or there has been a substantial variation of the parties’ intentions since.
Injunction & emergency relief
We strive to act without delay and decisively to obtain protection against the removal of children from the jurisdiction, domestic violence and the dissipation of financial assets.
If someone close to you dies with or without a Will, you may find there is no provision for you on death. In certain circumstances it may be possible to make a claim against the Estate for financial provision – this is not straight forward. We have experience of dealing with complex situations for example where there are businesses run by a new partner and children to a new partner and to a marriage.
Frequently asked questions
I am the managing director of a substantial commercial property business. The business is established as a limited company. My husband has no shares in this company. How will this be dealt with? I am also a beneficiary of a family overseas trust.
The value of your shareholding is relevant and will form part of the matrimonial assets. The first stage will be to establish the value and then look at it in the context of other assets. With regard to the trust, this is obviously a more complex area, but again, your beneficial entitlement will be relevant, but subject to the trust provisions which may effectively give no access to assets. This requires review by a lawyer who has an understanding of trusts.
As with your business, there will be communication between the Lawyer and the relevant other professionals who work for you, including Accountants, Financial Advisors and the Trustees of the Trust.
Complex financial issues on divorce should be looked at by specialist divorce solicitors.
I am a consultant and have a substantial pension. Will my wife has a claim over this and if so, how much?
Yes, pensions are one of the assets that are looked at on separation. It is possible for a Pension Sharing Order to be made where part of your pension is transferred into the name of your wife. Pension Sharing Orders are expressed as a percentage. The percentage will depend upon a variety of factors and has to be looked at in the context of the other assets and liabilities within the matrimonial pot.
It is possible, if there are other significant liquid assets to offset, for you to keep your pension, but in exchange, your wife will receive more of the other assets. As always, the answer is case specific.
I have been living with my partner for more than 2 years but we are not married. Do I have any additional rights?
No. Unmarried couples who live together do not acquire additional rights the longer they live together. You should consider obtaining a cohabitation agreement or declaration of trust if you are living with your partner and you are not married.
When I obtain Decree Absolute will this end any financial claims that I might have?
No. Financial matters are dealt with separately within the divorce process.
I am paying maintenance for a child who does not live with me. Does this provide me with extra rights?
No. The payment of maintenance and financial contribution to the upkeep of a child is completely separate to the arrangements for contact/residence.
Meet the Family Law team
Senior Consultant – Private and Public Family LawView profile
Partner – Divorce and FamilyView profile
Partner - Private and Public Family LawView profile
Associate - Family Law
Solicitor - Family LawView profile
Legal Assistant (Divorce and Family Law) and PA to Sarah Ward and Beth Courtney-WalkerView profile
Legal Assistant (Divorce and Family Law) and PA to Jennifer Goldstein
Legal Assistant (Divorce and Family Law) and PA to Sara Stockdale
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What our clients say
We have worked with a few solicitors over the years trying to resolve family issues concerning child arrangements, but none quite like Sarah Ward. Sarah is a fantastic no-nonsense solicitor who is professional, courteous, and friendly. The service she has provided has been exceptional and I would recommend her to anyone, especially those, such as us, who have struggled with proceedings for years without resolution. Her guidance and advice have been immeasurable.
Absolutely fabulous! Well done Sarah!NG
Jenny Goldstein looked after my case as a good friend of mine recommended her. I honestly can’t recommend Jenny Goldstein enough she is incredibly professional, passionate, and extremely helpful. Samuel Phillips is a firm I would highly recommend as all the staff are caring and deal with you in a lovely manner. Jenny Goldstein’s knowledge is superb anyone needing a first-class lawyer I would certainly get in touch with Jenny GoldsteinCM
Sarah Ward has gone above to support me and my family, over the past year, with financial and family matters. She is extremely professional and I felt extremely confident to have her by my side in court. I knew I could discuss anything with Sarah and I wouldn’t be judged, she was understanding and empathetic. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough I hope I don’t need a solicitor again, but if i did I would have no doubt in contacting Sarah and having her on my side once again. Thank you for all you help 5 starts stars enough xCG
“The unexpected breakdown of my marriage was devastating. At the outset I feared I would lose my home and my lifestyle. I felt extremely vulnerable. I am very grateful to the hard work and support of Sarah Ward who represented me. She was there for me 24/7. In my opinion she is the brightest and the best and she outwitted my ex’s legal team with her intellect and brilliance. I would recommend Sarah to anyone facing a divorce. She turned mine into a positive experience.”Christine
“Thank you for holding my hand through this horrendous process. I’m so grateful for your advice and compassionate support. Your future clients are lucky to be getting you.”Elizabeth
“You have been the biggest part of my life for the last year and I couldn’t have got through this without you. You have been more than a solicitor, you taught me to be a better version of myself and retain my dignity. I just wanted to let you know how very much I have appreciated your support.”John
“I have a beautiful home because of you and a chance to move on. You facilitated my freedom and I am so grateful to you.”Judith
“Thank you again for all your help, it was hell but you made it fun, you are a great girl.”Julie
“Many thanks for all your hard work over the last year. I have greatly appreciated your sound advice and professional approach throughout this time, so thank you for that.”Professor B
“Sarah, I don’t know what I ever did to deserve meeting you ….. but I am so glad that I did. I can’t thank you enough. I doubt there are many exceptional people like you in the legal profession, in every respect …. knowledge, professionalism and compassion.”Sharon Wright
“During the single most challenging experience of my life, Sarah Ward was the best thing that could have happened to me. Her tireless support, her unrivalled capability as a solicitor and her tangible empathy helped me cope. Sarah ensured she was available around the clock and her advice has been invaluable. I could not have wished for a more reliable, more focussed and more kind lawyer. I’m very grateful to Sarah and do not even want to imagine how this awful period in my life would have been without her.”Sindy Al
“Sarah represented me in my recent divorce. I have been impressed with the service and attention to detail. It’s been a very tough year but having someone on the end of the phone and email that understands complicated finances and is also personable and took the time to thoroughly understand my case has been a huge benefit and relief.”Stuart Hill
“Jenny thank you so much for steering me so successfully and professionally through the family Court. I am delighted at the result. The Judge ordered exactly what you proposed. I appreciated your focussed, realistic and supportive approach.”
“We could not have done it without you taking the time to listen to our concerns, your understanding or the sound advice you provided.”
“Jennifer has been greatly been professional, supportive, approachable and compassionate.”
“Jenny provided great reassurance and support, I really felt my case was personal to her in terms of not only did they support me as a law firm, she also provided support upon my mini-meltdowns.”