Child and Family Solicitor

Helping you to make the best decisions for your family


As a parent, you will find making decisions about what is best for your children difficult and emotional. These decisions could be whether you are considering where your children will live, their financial needs, what contact your child should have with their parent or any other issues; our child protection and family lawyers will help you to consider your best options for your children and you.

Wherever possible we will use mediation or the collaborative process which are the least stressful and most cost effective methods of resolving family disputes, they may also enable you to have some form of relationship with the other party in the future. If there is any more urgency (for example if your spouse is refusing to return your children after a contact visit), we can seek an injunction and where necessary we will take court action.

Parents are under a legal obligation to provide financially for their children even if the children no longer live with them. Paternity issues often arise in the context of child maintenance claims. A ‘parent’ may allege that they are not the natural father and are therefore not obliged to pay maintenance.

Get in touch today on 01483 887766 to speak to a member of our family law team.

who to contact


Vanessa McMurtrie

Partner, Family

Partner, Family

Vanessa McMurtrie

Vanessa trained and then qualified as a solicitor in 1991 with Hart Brown working in the Cobham office's family department for a decade. She then worked for us on a part time consultancy basis while devoting more time to her family. During this period she was instrumental in implementing Hart Brown’s family department’s case management system and later, the quality system that led to the firm’s ISO 9001 accreditation.

In 2005 Vanessa returned to client work and joined Mackrell Turner Garrett where she stayed for ten years, before re-joining Hart Brown in 2015. Vanessa knows Woking and the surrounding area well and enhances the work covered at our Woking office as part of the family team.

Vanessa has been a Resolution member since 1991, committed to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational and constructive way. She has served on the Surrey Resolution committee since 2008. She is a Resolution accredited collaboratively trained lawyer and welcomes the opportunity to help separating couples adopt this process as an alternative to the more traditional options available.

Over the years, Vanessa has gained a wealth of experience in dealing with all the legal aspects of relationships coming to an end. She prides herself on being approachable and understanding as she helps her clients go through the legal process.

Sharon Powell

Partner, Head of Family

Partner, Head of Family

Sharon Powell

Sharon has over 20 years experience in all aspects of family law and in particular the financial aspects of high value divorces. Sharon is a trained collaborative lawyer and she is particularly experienced in dealing with couples who have assets abroad.

She is a Resolution Accredited Specialist and qualified in mediation and collaborative family law.

“A break up of a relationship is very sad for everyone concerned” says Sharon. “I believe that our role is to try and help both parties reach a solution which they are both happy with. When feelings are running high this can sometimes be difficult but I believe we can make a difference”.

Sharon is often thanked by her clients for her sympathetic and supportive approach through a traumatic time in their lives.

Her most memorable case was in a divorce where financial matters involving significant assets were resolved amicably yet parties persisted to argue about kitchen utensils!

Sharon qualified as a solicitor in 1986 and joined Hart Brown in 2007 becoming a partner a few months later.

Family | 1st November 2019

“A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”, but...

We are a nation of pet lovers, but what happens to them if their human owners separate? Relationship breakdown is usually a stressful time for...

Vanessa McMurtrie

Family | 7th June 2019

Empty Nest, Empty Marriage

As an individual whose next ‘big birthday’ is 60, I have become more aware of how ordinary life events can suddenly feel extra-ordinarily scary and...

Vanessa McMurtrie

Family | 27th November 2018

Is there such a thing as a ‘good divorce’?

Many Resolution[1] family lawyers think so and this week is Resolution’s annual awareness-raising week Minimising the impact of conflict on children: Conflict can have some...

Vanessa McMurtrie

Family | 8th October 2018

Cohabitation, civil partnerships and marriage – the choice is now...

Last week, the Government announced that it intends to allow heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships. This decision was no doubt taken in the...

Julian Waldon

Family | 6th September 2018

Is there an advantage to being the Petitioner to a...

As many famous singers have lamented, “breaking up is hard to do”. On top of the emotional stress and prospect of legal proceedings, while the...

Vanessa McMurtrie

Family | 28th August 2018

Taking the heat out of negotiations

Not so many weeks ago we all had to work in record high temperatures. For one of my divorcing clients a Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR)...

Vanessa McMurtrie

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