01244 356789
Speak to our experts

Divorce, Separation & Finances

Our team of expert family lawyers know that the decision to separate or divorce is a difficult one and that appointing a solicitor who will be a true advocate for you throughout the process is essential.


The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 has reformed the law in England and Wales on Divorce, Dissolution and Separation. No longer will divorcing or separating couples need to appotion ‘blame’ i.e. adultery, unreasonable behaviour or separation. The only ground for Divorce will be that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and there will be very limited provision for contesting the Divorce. The new act will enable either an individual or in appropriate cases, a couple together to apply jointly for a Divorce.

It introduces a minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of the proceedings until the application for a conditional order (formerly known as Decree Nisi) and thereafter a period of 6 weeks and 1 day before applying for the final order in Divorces.

Whether divorcing or separating, it is still crucial for parties to receive advice as to what will happen on the finances and also any children arrangements.


If you have decided to separate but have not yet reached any final decision about the marriage or divorce, we can advise on a Deed of Separation and more importantly whether that is appropriate in your circumstances. We can also advise you on any implications there may be if you decide to divorce in the future.

Financial aspects

Regardless of whether there is dispute over any financial aspects, even if you are in agreement, it is essential to ensure that you receive appropriate advice and the correct procedure is followed in order to reach an outcome that binds you both.

Both parties are expected to be open, transparent, honest, and must provide full details of their respective financial situation. Without this, it is impossible to negotiate, mediate or come to any agreement. Putting together this financial information whether for negotiation or court process needs experienced guidance to ensure all relevant issues are covered.

Even when you agree, it is still crucial that the agreement you have reached is approved by the Court. To be final and binding this must be within a divorce and not a separation. If not, it is considered “open ended” and can lead to future applications and challenges being made against your assets. Even where matters seem relatively straightforward, or there are no significant assets, it is still crucial to ensure that the process is followed correctly.

Some cases may become more acrimonious. Disputes may arise regarding assets being in your partner’s name which can potentially lead to the sale or disposal of an asset, putting your financial position at risk.

We can provide emergency advice on the protections you can put in place and in situations where the Court becomes involved, guide you through the process, including the factors that a Court will consider and those it will not.

Speak to our experts

For a FREE initial consultation with our expert Family Lawyers, simply complete the form on this page, call 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk.

Why choose us? Because we are:


Our team has in excess of 90 years’ experience of helping, supporting and advising clients, achieving the best possible solutions for them and their children.


Members of our team are trained collaborative lawyers and mediators. This specialist knowledge enables us to deal with your family issue in a sensitive, constructive and cost-efficient way.


We understand the emotional turmoil and distress that separation and divorce can create. Our promise to you is that we will be by your side, supporting you at every stage, assisting, advising and providing solutions for you and your family.

Who will work on your matter?

A fully qualified lawyer. Your matter will either be handled or supervised by a solicitor with at least 20 years’ experience in this area of work.

Some areas of work may be supported by our Paralegal team.

Administrative duties will be undertaken by our support staff.

As Head of Department, Brenda Spain has overall responsibility for the supervision of all work carried out by her team.

Our Family Law Department

Brenda Spain

Brenda Spain

Head of Family Law
Family Law and Litigation Teams
Qualified 1987
Additional Qualifications: Member of Law Society Family Law Panel, Qualified Mediator

Hello, I joined Cullimore Dutton in 2019 to take up the position as Head of the Family Law team.

I have been qualified for over 30 years having previously practiced in Worcestershire in a tier one Family Law team. I have considerable experience of dealing with all aspects of family disputes, with particular expertise in:

  • Divorce/separation and finances; particularly those cases involving Businesses, Pensions (NHS, Police, Armed Forces), Farms and Inheritance etc
  • Private children disputes including internal and international relocation
  • Cohabitation disputes
  • Pre and post nuptial agreements
  • Civil partnership disputes
  • Domestic abuse cases

I am also a qualified mediator, a member of the Law Society Family Panel and a member of Resolution.

I appreciate that relationship breakdowns can be a very difficult and overwhelming experience for many. This is where strong support, guidance and understanding is required.

I work extremely hard for clients to resolve matters in a clear, down to earth, professional and approachable way. I am always prepared to go that extra mile to help our clients achieve the best outcome for them and their children whether through the negotiation process or the Court process if Court Proceedings become necessary.

I was recently appointed as Cullimore Dutton’s Training Principal and am delighted to be able to mentor and support colleagues who are entering the legal profession.

I am proud to head a team of very talented lawyers, aspiring lawyers and assistants.

Away from work I enjoy spending time with family and friends and being outdoors with my Labradors. I enjoy sports, music and getting involved in charitable events and good causes.

Fran Crank

Francesca Crank

Trainee Solicitor
Family Law Team

I joined the Family Law team as a Legal Assistant in January 2021 having previously worked as a Paralegal at a Stockport based solicitors’ practise and was I delighted to take on the role of Trainee Solicitor in February 2022. 

I graduated from the University of Manchester in 2018 with a degree in Law with Criminology before completing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) with Masters at the University of Law in Chester in 2019, achieving a Distinction. 

I have always been passionate about Family Law and was delighted to have the opportunity to work with such an experienced team here at Cullimore Dutton. I look forward to developing my knowledge further within this team as my career progresses. 

In my spare time I enjoy running, horse riding and socialising with friends. 

Susan Alexander

Susan Alexander

Consultant Solicitor
Family Law Team
Qualified 1981 (Scotland), 1994 (England & Wales)
Additional Qualifications: Collaborative law practitioner, Child inclusive mediator, FMCA accredited mediator

Hello. I joined the firm as a Consultant Solicitor and Family Mediator in May 2016. I am an accredited family law specialist with over 35 years of experience as a family lawyer dealing with all aspects of Family Law, including divorce, separation, children and financial issues, cohabitation disputes and preparation of pre-nuptial agreements and cohabitation deeds.  

I am a fully accredited Family Mediator and provide Child Inclusive Mediation. I practise collaborative law where couples sit round the table with specially trained lawyers to help them reach solutions which are best for them and their children. I promote the benefits to separating couples and their children of having a dialogue together in a safe and supported environment to make decisions that need to be made about money and property and child care arrangements.  

Divorce is not easy nor is it easy to sit down together and talk about how assets should be shared or how child arrangements should be worked out when emotions are running high. Using Family Mediation and Collaborative Law usually means that agreements are reached more quickly and the uncertainty (and costs) of court proceedings are avoided.  

I am an experienced litigator in cases that cannot be resolved by mediation or collaborative law. I take pride in being thought of as an efficient, hardworking yet approachable and supportive solicitor who helps people through a very difficult time. 

My expertise is in: 

  • Family Mediation including child inclusive mediation  
  • Collaborative family law 
  • All aspects of divorce and separation including financial and children issues 
  • Pre and post nuptial agreements 
  • Cohabitation agreements  
  • Cohabitee disputes 
  • Resolution accredited Family Law specialist  

Away from my desk I like to go to the gym and the lawyer’s fit club, I play bridge and I sing in the Rock Choir. I love socialising with my friends and family. I am also involved in organising events for charity. 

Eluned Roberts

Eluned Roberts

Associate Solicitor
Family Law Team
Qualified 2011
Additional Qualifications: Collaborative law practitioner

Hello. I joined the Cullimore Dutton’s family Law team in February 2022 as an Associate Solicitor and Collaborative Family Lawyer. I have over 10 years’ experience in the field of family law and deal with all aspects of private family law.

I gained a wealth of experience in dealing with children law cases early on in my career, which has given me the expertise to advise families on all aspects of children law, including child arrangements, specific issue orders, prohibited steps orders, parental responsibility, adoption and special guardianship orders.

I also specialise in advising clients in relation to divorce, civil partnership dissolution and cohabitation disputes together with negotiating on complex financial settlements. I am also able to advise on pre-nuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements.

I am a committed member of Resolution, seeking to resolve family disputes in a constructive manner. I approach cases with a sensitive, friendly and pragmatic manner and strive to ensure that a client’s case is dealt with proportionately and cost-effectively. I am a qualified collaborative lawyer. I truly believe that the process can offer clients a ‘better way’ for separating families to make decisions whilst giving the opportunity to remain amicable. This can help retain a positive co-parenting relationship as well as help to maintain other relationships, extended families or mutual friends. It also allows families to negotiate at their own pace and avoid the cost and acrimony that court proceedings can cause.

Where court proceedings are unavoidable, I am an experienced and efficient litigator with technical knowledge of the law and procedural rules. My sensitive, calm manner and hard-working ethics allow me to support clients through their court case and provide assurance and straight-forward legal advice at every step of the way.

I have previously worked in firms in North Wales, Knutsford and a reputable Legal500 firm in Manchester. Having grown up in North Wales and lived in Chester for a number of years, I am excited to have the opportunity to provide advice and support to local families as well as those further afield who are in need of sensible and expert advice on family law matters.

My expertise is in:
• Child arrangements, including adoption and special guardianship
• All aspects of divorce and separation including complex financial negotiations
• Pre and post nuptial agreements
• Cohabitation agreements
• Cohabitee disputes
• Collaborative family law

Away from work, I enjoy playing hockey, spending time with my family, going on caravan holidays, baking with my children and walking my golden retriever in the Cheshire countryside.

Thank you so much for your support and everything you have done for me during this really stressful time. I am so very grateful.

Cullimore Dutton Family Law client

Thank you for all your help and advice. I don’t think I could have managed it without you, you kept me on the right path.

Cullimore Dutton Family Law client