Partner and head of family law, London
At secondary school I undertook work experience with an immigration barrister as an administrative assistant. I had a great time during my two weeks and then spent the rest of the summer holidays there. I enjoyed it so much I returned every summer until I started university. Those two weeks completely changed the course of my life.
At university I struggled to find any work experience for the summers. A family member encouraged me to consider becoming a special police constable with the Metropolitan Police. I completed an intense training course and by September I was one. I was eventually promoted to special police sergeant.
I completed my training at a multi-disciplinary high street practice. I really enjoyed the culture, the people and the quality of the work the firm had to offer. As I completed my LPC, I managed to secure a training contract with the firm. Most of my contract focused on family law.
Family law is unique in that it encompasses a number of areas. These include divorce and finances, to Children Act proceedings and injunctions, to the preparation of pre- and post-nuptial agreements, as well as cohabitation agreements. The exposure to all of these during my training contract made me see that no two days are ever the same.
One day my training principal asked if I wanted to attend a hearing. As I got closer to court, I was told that the barrister could not make it because of a family emergency. I ended up having to conduct the advocacy and managed to secure a final order in relation to the contact arrangements. This increased my desire to conduct more advocacy.
There has been a rise in ‘destination’ weddings. Many people do not realise the impact of having a wedding abroad. I habitually prepare pre-nuptial agreements to safeguard couples, especially those marrying abroad or those with wealth outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales. Equally, many get married in this country under a religious custom (or ceremony) only, and therefore are not afforded the same level of protection as couples married through a civil wedding ceremony.
'I was the architect of the Pup-Nup®, an agreement that safeguards the arrangements for a puppy or dog, upon the breakdown of a relationship'
For some couples who have had both a civil wedding ceremony and a religious one, a civil divorce through the courts in England and Wales is not enough to end their marriage. While the civil divorce legally brings the marriage to an end, the couple remain married under religious laws and need a religious divorce too. I specifically deal with obtaining a Get for Jewish marriages, and Talaq as well as Khula or Faskh for Islamic marriages.
I understand the importance of taking into account the spiritual as well as the legal aspects of a divorce. I have been fortunate enough to build my practical experience from advising clients as far afield as Pakistan, India, Israel, Turkey, the US, the Gulf and Iran. I have also been involved in advising on the correct time to obtain a religious divorce as well as resolve disputes over dowries.
I was the architect of the Pup-Nup®, an agreement that safeguards the arrangements for a puppy or dog upon the breakdown of a relationship. This came to me during lockdown, when there was a significant rise in the purchase of puppies and dogs (prices had doubled during this time). There had been some high-profile disputes regarding the dog within the context of divorce proceedings, including Ant McPartlin (chocolate Labrador, Hurley) and Johnny Depp (Pistol and Boo). More recently Britney Spears and her ex-husband have just come to an agreement on what to do with their dogs.
The English courts treat dogs in the same way they would treat contents and possessions. Dogs are valued members of the family and, unfortunately, issues surrounding their care and ownership can result in contentious and lengthy legal proceedings. Ultimately, if the owners cannot agree on a way forward, a court will need to decide on the issue. The court’s powers include the ability to transfer ownership as well as make financial provision for the caring party.
Unlike Children Act proceedings, where there is specific legislation of factors a court must consider, nothing on dogs or pets generally exists. So, a Pup-Nup® is an effective way to state one’s wishes and agree on what will happen in the dog’s future, should parties separate.