Family Law

It must always be kept in mind that the Court is required to exercise a broad discretion in the determination of financial provision claims.  This is encapsulated in the words of Lord Justice Ormrod:

“I only want to add one or two observations arising out of Mr Aglionby’s submissions.  I appreciate the point he has made, namely, that it is difficult for a practitioner to advise clients in these cases because the rules are not very firm.  That is inevitable when the Courts are working out the exercise of why powers given by a statute like the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 [the Matrimonial Causes Order NI 1978].  It is the essence of such a discretionary situation that the Court should preserve, so far as it can, the utmost elasticity to deal with each case on its own facts.  Therefore it is a matter of trial and error and imagination on the part of those advising clients.  It equally means that decisions of this Court can never be better than guidelines.  They are not precedents in the strict sense of the word.  There is bound to be an element of uncertainty in the use of wide discretionary powers given to the Court under the 1973 Act and no doubt there will always be because as social circumstances change so the Court will have to adapt the ways in which it exercises discretion…”.

Following the breakdown of a close and longstanding  personal relationship, it can take a long time to heal.  Emotions can be raw and tensions can quickly escalate with litigation providing a forum for bitter recrimination and attribution of blame.  A barrister can bring a clear and objective focus to the facts unclouded by emotion and advise you on the relevant legal principles.  In my experience, clients can only truly “move on” when they have obtained certainty and finality of outcome.  An early assessment of the likely outcome, a strategic approach to negotiation and measured advocacy can significantly enhance the prospects of an early resolution with a saving of legal costs and emotional energy.


My specialist  interests

  • Pre-nuptial agreements
  • Co-habitation agreements
  • Emergency financial reliefs including cross-jurisdictional Freezing Orders
  • Emergency reliefs to obtain restraining orders and orders to deal with violence in the home
  • Divorce including jurisdictional issues
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Financial provision following divorce
  • Contact and residence disputes
  • International child abduction
  • Public law cases involving allegations of non-accidental injury and intra-familial child sexual abuse.



Significant cases in which I have appeared:

G v G and Anor [2003] NiFam 19

I appeared as Counsel for the petitioner/wife in one of the first cases in Northern Ireland in which percentile division of capital was considered following the decision of the Supreme Court in the landmark decision of White v White.


Graham v Graham and Another [2003] NIFam 14

Again I appeared as Counsel for the petitioner/wife.


S v S [2010] NI Master 7

I appeared as Counsel for the petitioner/wife in a case in which the percentile division of spousal income was considered.


F v F [2007] NI Master 53

I appeared on behalf of the respondent/husband.  This case considered the merits of set-off as opposed to pension share, i.e. the so-called apples versus oranges argument.