hlw Keeble Hawson partner, Vanessa Fox, is this month marking 25 years as head of the firm’s family law department – a period which has seen substantial legal upheaval.
An acknowledged expert in high net worth cases and situations where divorce affects family businesses, Vanessa is collaboratively trained and a qualified mediator who has modernised South Yorkshire Resolution since becoming chair in 2013.
Ms Fox, who is also a member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel and the Children Panel, says the last quarter century has seen seismic changes in family law which include landmark legal reform, rapid social and attitudinal shifts – along with major technological advances and heightened political scrutiny.
She said: “My first year as head of department brought the Children’s Act 1989 – a milestone piece of legislation which addressed the vital issues of residency and contact. We have also witnessed a ‘swing’ of matrimonial financial law – firstly towards wives and then back towards husbands, in terms of wives being expected to get a job and not expect a meal ticket for life.
“I champion the advent of mediation and collaboration as methods of resolving divorce issues without going to court as a very positive trend. Collaborative law wasn’t even thought of when I began practising and the general flavour of matrimonial work was very acrimonious – I don’t miss those times.”
Not so positive developments for the family lawyer include the 2013 demise of legal aid and the rise of the unmarried family – with particular emphasis on the continuing lack of knowledge about the lack of rights for unmarried women.
hlw Keeble Hawson managing partner, Paul Trudgill, said: “Our family department stands out for its high level of specialism in all areas of family work including children, financial relief and cohabitation issues. Vanessa’s expertise and collaborative ‘no-nonsense’ approach has been instrumental in growing our client base both in Yorkshire and across the country throughout the last 25 years and we wish her continued success.”