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Alternative Family Law is a law firm in Central London (SE1), England, opposite Borough Market, specialising in divorce, separation, civil partnership for same-sex couples (gay men and lesbians), children matters, cohabiting couples, international family law cases and Inheritance Act claims. We have not entered into a contract to offer clients legal aid. You can find news updates in our news section.

Alternative Family Law is headed by Andrea Woelke, an accredited expert in family law with particular expertise in international family law, child abduction and cohabitation. Andrea Woelke is a published legal author and also a mediator and collaborative family lawyer. On this site there is free information about the alternatives to court proceedings setting out the various options including mediation and collaborative family law, the main alternative ways to resolve family disputes outside the court system and avoiding litigation. Both are based on principled negotiations and mediation is particularly suitable in times of credit crunch and recession. Sören Stauffer-Kruse, a counselor and psychotherapist specialising in relationship problems, is seeing clients from our offices. He is bilingual in German and English. On this website you will find free information on how lawyers in England accept instructions, where to find us, how to apply for an internship and whether we are recruiting.

When it comes to children in England the concepts of custody, care and control and access were abolished and there are three main concepts in connection with children: residence, contact and parental responsibility. Any decisions are based on the child’s welfare and the court procedure is aimed at parties coming to an agreement. Our support page has sources of information for parents. Couples who cannot have their own biological children for whatever reason (and of course in particular same-sex couples) may choose from a range of options: from fertility treatment, via private sperm donation to surrogacy. In all these the questions of paternity are tricky but crucial and in particular after surrogacy the paternity rules in England are probably counter-intuitive. In most cases of surrogacy especially international surrogacy cases the intended parents must apply for a parental order to the English court.

Lesbians and gay men can now register their civil partnership in England, which is almost the same as marriage. When they are planning to have children, there are various options for parenting by same-sex couples including co-parenting, sperm donation and surrogacy, especially for gay men. We also have a page on practical tips on lesbian and gay parenting.

Whether a couple is married or partnered or not, separations can be difficult and there are often financial issues to sort out including a joint home. Andrea Woelke is an accredited expert on cohabitation. There can also be issues about child maintenance and other financial provision for children and sometimes a domestic violence injunction may be necessary.

Divorce in England is started by a divorce petition and although the procedure is archaic, it can all be done on paper if the parties agree. Civil partnership dissolution is similar. EU law under the Brussels II Regulation determines the courts of which country hear a divorce. Where a divorce is started can make a massive difference to the outcome of divorce proceedings, especially when it comes to finances including the sharing of assets, pensions and maintenance payments. To avoid having to go through the lengthy financial court procedure many couples are thinking about entering into a pre-nuptial agreement or a pre-registration agreement to regulate their finances on a possible later divorce or civil partnership dissolution in advance.

International family law can be tricky. Andrea Woelke is an accredited expert. In cases of child abduction the Hague Convention on Child Abduction helps to return a child, but it is best to prevent child abduction, or from the other perspective to obtain permission for moving abroad with children. English family law is very different to systems in other countries, including those in the EU. Some areas of law are particularly complicated when there is an international dimension, including international civil partnership for same-sex couples (including Schedule 20 of the Civil Partnership Act), international surrogacy and financial issues on divorce.


This is an outline of the law, practice and procedure in England and Wales. It should not be taken as specific advice. All families and couples are different. The law may have changed since this was written and we therefore accept no liability for inaccuracies. Where examples are given, your personal circumstances may vary slightly, but the difference may be significant for the outcome of the legal process. Contact us for specific advice on your own circumstances.

We take no responsibility for the content of any web pages linked to outside Alternative Family Law.