Caroline Willbourne

Year of Call: 1970

Practice Overview

Caroline specialises in financial remedy work, advising and representing both husbands and wives, with the intention wherever possible of resolving their disputes. If this cannot be achieved, then she will cross-examine fearlessly at final hearings, having identified the core issues. Her financial work includes Schedule 1 Children Act claims, Inheritance Act disputes and cases for financial provision for unmarried parties.

A significant part of Caroline’s work is sitting at the Central Family Court as a Deputy District judge, where she is assigned to the Financial Remedies Unit. This involves hearing FDRs, as well as final hearings in financial cases. FDRs require the swift absorption of facts and the ability to indicate concisely to the parties what the likely outcome will be. 

An increasing proportion of Caroline’s work is now mediation/ENE. She accepts instructions from Direct Public Access clients in suitable cases.

  • ENE / Private FDR

    Having qualified as a mediator in 1993, Caroline is a seasoned and experienced practitioner both in the UK and abroad: mediating their disputes allows each party to focus on what is important to them and to craft their own agreement, which Caroline can facilitate.

    She prides herself on her ability to encourage clients to see the benefits reaching agreement in this way.

    An important part of mediation is Early Neutral Evaluation, where Caroline draws on her judicial experience to advise parties of the likely outcome of their case. She also accepts instructions to conduct private FDRs, in the interest of both parties reaching settlement early in the process. This is a cost-effective process and is emotionally less damaging for both parties.

  • International Family Law

    In this arena, Caroline undertakes cases in which there is a jurisdictional clash, and where conflicts of laws principles are vital elements. These cases require consideration of the enforceability of orders made in other jurisdictions and the extent to which our courts will give effect to foreign orders: see, for example, O v P (Baker J) from 2015 – 17, in which Caroline was led by Susan Jacklin QC (now HHJ Jacklin QC).

    An additional complication of that case was that the father was imprisoned in Australia throughout the various hearings, whereas the case was being litigated in the High Court in London, that decision having been taken at a preliminary stage of the proceedings.

  • Children (Private Law)

    Caroline also undertakes Private Law children work, primarily advising and representing parents, but occasionally children or interveners too. She also represents those who seek Special Guardianship Orders. She handles relocation cases whether leave to remove children from the jurisdiction or internal relocation applications are sought.