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Maeve O’Higgins

Head of Family  London Office

Background & experience

Maeve joined Burlingtons in October 2017 as head of family law. Prior to this she headed up the family law departments at four other London law firms, including May, May & Merrimans in Gray’s Inn (now merged with Hunters).

Maeve deals with all aspects of family law, mainly divorce and separation and the financial aspects of divorce and relationship breakdown for mid to high and ultra-high net worth individuals and/or their spouses and partners. Her clients include divorcing couples, cohabiting couples and same-sex couples from all walks of life, many of whom are high profile individuals.

Marital agreements

She has a lot of experience in dealing with marital agreements: prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements and separation agreements, as well as cohabitation/living together agreements, for couples who do not intend to get married. Her experience includes negotiating the terms of a prenuptial agreement for an ultra-high net worth individual, worth more than £500 million.

International child relocation/leave to remove

She also has particular expertise in dealing with international child relocation/leave to remove cases, where one parent wants to move abroad with the children after the breakdown of the couple’s relationship, and the other parent does not want the children to move. She has dealt with international child relocations as far afield as Australia and New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates and China. She has also acted successfully for parents opposing their children moving aboard (usually fathers, as it is nearly always mothers who want to move abroad with the children).

Cross jurisdictional issues

Maeve also deals with cross-jurisdictional issues, for example where there is a forum race between different countries to issue divorce proceedings. The forum is important because the court which deals with the divorce will usually also deal with the financial aspects of the divorce. England and Wales is a generous jurisdiction for the economically weaker spouse, compared to many other countries; hence London’s reputation as the divorce capital of the world.

Family mediation

As well as being a very experienced family lawyer, Maeve is also an experienced family mediator, having trained with the late John Haynes, National Family Mediation and the Family Mediators Association. She prefers to co-mediate, working with a family mediator from a family/therapeutic background, believing that the co-mediation model, which addresses both the emotional and legal issues arising out of relationship breakdown, works best for clients.

Collaborative law

Maeve is also an experienced collaborative lawyer and was one of the very first group of family law professionals based in England to undergo training in collaborative law in September 2003 with Pauline Tesler, a world-renowned collaborative lawyer, based in California. Maeve has been offering the interdisciplinary model of collaborative law as a process option for clients who do not wish to use the court process since 2004. She was one of the founder members of City of London Collaborative Lawyers, established in 2008.


Maeve is an accredited member of the Law Society’s family law and family mediation (practitioner member) panels. She is also a long term member of Resolution – first for family law, which promotes a constructive approach to the issues arising out of relationship breakdown and emphasises the importance of focusing on the welfare of any children of the family.

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