Philip Barnsley

Partner and Head of Family Law

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"I am a family lawyer with many years’ experience of dealing with complex and high value cases. I am not afraid to say what my clients need to hear, rather than what they want to hear.”

I lead the family law team at Higgs having worked my way from a trainee, joining the firm in 1997.

I have been involved in several committees related to the practice of family law, including acting as both the regional chair and then being elected to the National and Executive Committees of Resolution, the professional body for family justice in the UK.

My links with Resolution continue to today, where I require all my team to be active members of the organisation and have presented the Finance Update at the National Conference since 2019.

I have specialised in family law throughout my career. I have developed a significant body of cases where I act in high value, complex financial and property matters upon divorce, as well as advising families regarding the protection of wealth through the use of nuptial agreements.

Since late 2022, I have also started to offer a service to both parties to a divorce, using just one lawyer. This has proven popular with many of my professional connections in financial services, who see the benefits to their clients of being able to provide this kind of service.

I am instructed by many wealthy individuals and families because of my experience and expertise, as well as my high standards of service and through referrals from previous clients.

As well as being a member of Resolution and a trained collaborative lawyer, I am also recognised as Leading Individual by Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners.

  • Acted for a husband who was a director in a multinational business. He and his wife held assets in the UK, Europe and the US. Devised a strategy and settlement structure that was both tax efficient and focussed on Wife’s key issues on settlement. This was agreed and implemented, with the parties remaining amicable to the extent that they still take their children on holiday together.
  • Acted for a wife with interests in a successful family business. Successfully defeated husband’s claims around the value by instructing robust forensic accountancy experts, resulting in an excellent outcome for the wife on divorce.
  • Acted for a husband who had inherited significant sums from his family both before and during his marriage. Successfully defended claims by wife that she was entitled to share in these after the Judge agreed with our submissions that these were non-matrimonial and therefore excluded from division upon divorce.
  • Advised upon, negotiated and settled a Post-Nuptial Agreement for a client who had received a significant sum on the sale of a family business. The terms of the agreement mean that this money will not be considered upon any separation or divorce after this was successfully negotiated through the spouse’s solicitors.
  • Acted for a wife whose husband refused to deal with ongoing proceedings. When he decided to get involved at the last moment, I successfully argued that the husband should not only be forced to reveal all of his financial affairs but should also meet all of the wife’s costs for the proceedings to date.

More about me

My hero

Kevin Sinfield

Favourite place

Lux South Ari Atoll, Maldives

Interesting fact

I once had dinner with Rod Stewart

Joined Higgs


"Excellent empathy during my divorce. Phil Barnsley was very companionate, knowledgeable and provided the relevant information so that I could make an informed choice. I will never forget how they got me through the most difficult part of my life it was like a therapeutic process"

Legal 500

"Philip Barnsley maintains an excellent practice in financial remedy disputes and settlements. He has experience in mandates involving prenuptial agreements and overseas assets"

Chambers and Partners

"Fantastic with clients and really goes the extra mile for them. It’s always a pleasure to be briefed by Phil who tends to brief me on high value cases with high net-worth clients"

Legal 500