Valerie Sterling was educated at Manchester High School for Girls and Manchester University. Called to the Bar in 1981, she did chancery and commercial pupillages in London. Valerie was an employed barrister at Leeds City Council before joining chambers to practise exclusively family law. Valerie specialises in complex child care and matrimonial finance cases and is Head of the Family Team. She represents clients with skill, determination and sensitivity.

Languages: French and German

Matrimonial Finance: I represented a wife who obtained a very favourable result after a three day contested final financial hearing concerning a number of family properties.

Divorce & Debt: I acted at FDR and at final hearing in a complex divorce case in which conduct was an issue.

Divorce – High Value: I acted in a wide ranging and complex high value case involving businesses and trusts.

Appeal: I acted for an appellant mother in a two day appeal hearing where the local authority and the guardian both opposed the mother’s applications. I prepared amended grounds of appeal and the supporting skeleton argument together with a bundle of authorities. At the hearing before the appeal judge, permission was granted for the hearing of the appeal out of time but the appeal itself was dismissed.

Mental Health: I have an appreciation of cases involving mental health issues and have acted on behalf of the Official Solicitor.

Fact Finding: The threshold criteria were not met because the mother’s care had not fallen below that expected of a reasonable parent and she had separated immediately from her former partner. In a complex case involving many parties, permission was ultimately given for the local authority to withdraw their applications for care orders in respect of the mother’s children.

Care & Special Guardianship: I represented a young mother in a five day final hearing concerning non-accidental bruising to her young daughter. Special guardianship orders were made to the maternal grandparents providing for the mother to have generous, albeit supervised contact, with her daughter.

Emotional Harm: I represented a father in a case involving longstanding neglect and emotional harm to his daughters who were being cared for by their mother in an extended sibling group. My client resumed care of his two daughters under a supervision order to support the transition of care to him.

Private Law & Domestic Violence: I acted in two contested final hearings regarding contact, achieving positive outcomes in each case. I have particular expertise in handling sensitive cases involving multiple allegations of historical physical, emotional and sexual violence, and those with a religious and cultural dimension. I often represent clients who are assisted by an interpreter.

Notable Cases

Practice Areas

Appointments & Memberships

  • Head of the Family Team, New Park Court Chambers
  • Family Law Bar Association

Publications & Speaking

I have written articles for Family Law, the Local Government Website and Justice of the Peace.

  • Recent Radicalisation Cases in the Family Court (30.10.15)
  • Think carefully before you press ‘send’! (11.02.14)

Local Government Lawyer

  • A history of violence (a study of two recent cases about fact finding hearings) (25.11.2010)
  • Perpetrators, anticipatory rulings and other issues. Part Two: Review of key cases in 2009 concerning children and care (12.01.2010)
  • Fact-finding cases and placing for adoption: a two part review of key cases in 2009 concerning children and care. Part One (15.12.09)
  • Media representatives attending family hearings (23.11.09)

Family Law

  • ‘DNA, Paternity Deceit and Reliability of the Birth Certificate as a Historical Document’ (August 2009)
  • ‘More Contact for Breast Feeding Mothers’ (April 2005)

Justice of the Peace


  • Update on Separate Representation for Children in Private Law Proceedings: (11.03.03)
  • Cohabitees and Financial Obligations (15.06.02)
  • White v White Analysis and Update of Recent Cases (04.05.02)
  • White v White Analysis and Update of Recent Cases (09.03.02)
  • Separate Representation for Children in Private Law Proceedings (01.12.01)
  • Occupation Orders and the Family Law Act 1996 (18.8.01)
  • Effect of Domestic Violence on Contact (04.08.01)
  • Non-accidental Injury – Child Care Law and Procedure (18.12.99)
  • Section 202, Housing Act 1996: Homelessness, Local Authorities and the New Right of Appeal (27.11.99)
  • The Introduction of the Housing Act 1996 section 152: Antisocial Behaviour and Local Authority Injunctions: (14.08.99)


  • ‘Being Seen and Heard’ – educational video on needs of children whose parents have a mental illness (22.01.05)
  • ‘Special Bulletin of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002: Implications for Family Lawyers’ and ‘Working with the Child Care Protocol’ (08.05.04)
  • ‘Surviving Violent Crime & The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority’ (06.09.03)
  • Child Abuse 3rd Edition (14.06.03)
  • Funding Family Proceedings (Special Bulletin) (03.05.03)
  • Children Act Private Law Proceedings: A Handbook (05.04.03)

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