Family life is rewarding and challenging in equal measure but there are times when you may need the help of specialist family and divorce lawyers, whether you live in the UK or overseas. You may simply want to know what your rights are or understand the implications for your children or your financial position if you take a particular path, such as divorce for married couples or separation for unmarried couples.

Whether it is the beginning or the end of a relationship, or anything in between, we work in all areas of family law and divorce and will take you through the procedure step by step in a simple and helpful way.

We work with individuals, couples, parents, same-sex couples and grandparents in Hertfordshire, London, across the rest of the UK and internationally to support you and find your way through this very complex area of law.

Our family team advises on highly contested divorces involving significant personal assets, with complicated business interests and challenging child arrangements, often involving an international element. We also deal with more straightforward situations, where as a couple you have simply grown apart and wish to go your separate ways.

We will do all that we can to make the whole process as amicable and painless as possible, including helping couples try to find solutions without the need to go to court and have a Judge make decisions for you. We will always explore and discuss with you how best to deal with your particular issues and problems, including:

• mediation with a neutral professional third party
• getting together with your partner and their solicitor to discuss matters and explore all options
• using the collaborative process

The divorce process

The key to achieving the best result is that you understand your position clearly and know the process and the range of outcomes that are available. The team at Debenhams Ottaway will give you the support you need by giving clear, practical advice.

It may become necessary to seek help from the Court and enter into proceedings. If so, we will do everything in our power to make sure you are treated fairly, you get the best possible outcome and your future is secure.

The steps to be taken to become divorced are procedurally quite straightforward and our role is the guide you through the process, ensure your needs are met and provide understanding during what is an extremely difficult and emotional time.


The increase in international travel and people moving abroad to work has inevitably resulted in an ever increasing number of families who have connections to more than one country. It may be that partners are of different nationalities, or that both parties are living abroad in a country that neither is a national of.

When it comes to family breakdown, each case is different depending on the nationalities of the parties and where they are living. We specialise in international divorce and separation.

In these situations, it may be that the choice of where to deal with the separation has an impact on the potential outcomes and it is important to understand all of your options before taking further action.

Financial settlement

One of the most stressful and upsetting aspects of separating is often the division of your finances and assets.

Whether seeking advice on obtaining your fair share or protecting assets, pragmatic and sensible advice will be key. Using tactical expertise and technical knowledge, we can help you with the full range of claims which can be sought when a relationship breaks down.

We understand every family is unique and we will do our best to ensure that a fair settlement is reached and your needs are met. Our role will be to help you understand your rights, and entitlement and to guide and support you through the process.

As members of Resolution, we encourage out of court settlements and strive to resolve disputes with minimal conflict.

Other countries may deal differently with financial matters between separating couples to that in England and Wales. The English court is able to make orders in relation to assets held abroad but whether the order will be enforceable needs to be considered carefully. We will be able to advise you in relation to the negotiations and settlement surrounding international divorce and separation.

If you are not married and are separating from your partner following the breakdown of the relationship, we can advise you on your entitlement to the assets you shared during the relationship for example the house you lived in together or the other assets you shared. We can assist you in reaching and agreeing a separation agreement.

Pre and post nuptial agreements

Not only can we advise you following the breakdown of your relationship, we can advise as you embark on a new relationship and offer advice and assistance to those who are in a secure marriage. Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements are increasingly popular for first and subsequent marriages and we regularly work with individuals and couples to give clarity and certainty to your future and to provide for other dependents.

Living together agreements

For those who live together but are not married or in a civil partnership, it is extremely important to consider putting a living together agreement in place. There is no such thing as a common law wife or husband and making sure you are protected if the relationship breaks down is very important, especially where children are involved.

To discuss your family or divorce needs or options, contact us today

Family, divorce and separation news

Knowledge & Resources

Our knowledge and resources area provides more information.

View Resources
What Clients Say
  • Helen Young is described as “approachable and pragmatic,” while another source adds that she is “a very sensible person and easy to deal with.”

    Chambers and Partners 2018
  • The ‘talented team’ at Debenhams Ottaway provides ‘sound, solution-focused advice’, acting for high net-worth individuals in complex financial cases and divorce proceedings. The practice also advises on cases involving the children of separating couples, and has significant cross-border expertise. Department head Helen Young is ‘an impressive solicitor with a good focus on effective case strategy’, and senior associate Richard Gilbert ‘argues his corner with a logical and reasoned approach’, and ‘has a calm and reassuring manner which immediately puts his clients at ease’. Belinda Strange, who advises London-based clients on complex family issues, is also noted.

    Legal 500 2017
  • Helen Young is experienced advising on complex and high-value financial cases. One source highlights her collaborative law work and says: “It’s always good to do cases with her. She takes a very empathetic approach.”

    Chambers and Partners 2017