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 but now specialises in complex child care and high value matrimonial finance cases.

Valerie is Head of the Family Team and has a strong reputation for representing her clients with skill, determination and sensitivity.

Valerie can speak French and German.

Valerie represents clients from diverse backgrounds in medium to high net worth cases.  She has broad experience of business, property and pensions, profit and loss accounts, third party interests, appeals and making successful applications for costs.

Valerie takes care in thorough and insightful preparation of complex material.  In particular, she has wide experience of representing professional parties including consultant physicians and surgeons, as well as members of the teaching and accountancy professions and members of the Armed Forces.

Notable Cases

  • Re: X

    Represented a husband in a contested final hearing and succeeded in obtaining an option to buy the wife out of the FMH because he had primary care of a child of the marriage.

  • Re: H

    Represented a wife in a complex case revolving around a preliminary key issue as to whether a substantial payment from her father’s retirement pension to the parties was a bridging loan or an outright gift. Successful finding and a costs order made against the other party.

  • Re: Z

    Complex contested case in which there was a requirement for detailed analyses of business accounts as well as paper trail of spending patterns and lifestyle choices.

  • Re: P

    Represented a high net worth client with assets of over £10 million involving family trusts and settlements.

  • Re: Q

    Represented a wife in which her husband was in breach of a previous court order and had applied for variation of the same. She in turn applied for enforcement.

Valerie represents local authorities, guardians and parents in the most complex of care proceedings. Having worked for 16 years for Leeds City Council, she had acquired a profound understanding of public law work and attended many case conferences and adoption panels as a legal advisor.

She has an excellent understanding of medical evidence and how to prepare effective cross-examination of expert witnesses. For example, Valerie has represented parents alleged to have sexually abused their own children and where their children are expressing extreme sexualised behaviours.

Valerie handles with appropriate sensitivity cases involving personality and mental heath issues.

Notable Cases

  • Re:X

    Represented a mother in the pool of possible perpetrators for deliberate infliction of a serious wound on her infant. This eight day finding of fact case involved obtaining and analysing corroborative evidence of many text and social media messages.

  • Re: G

    Acted for a mother alleged to have caused a range of inflicted fractures or at least that she failed to protect her child from these injuries having occurred over a period of time. The latter case involved cross-examination of a consultant radiologist and a consultant paediatrician as to causation.

  • Re: L

    Acted for a local authority who have brought care proceedings following a chaotic set of home circumstances. There followed a range of professional assessments and ultimately a programme of rehabilitation with suitable social work support took place.

  • Re: M

    Represented a guardian who scrutinised and challenged local authority care plans requiring effective advocacy to articulate her views.

Valerie has a broad experience of private law Children Act proceedings involving residence, contact, Prohibited Steps Orders, Specific Issue Orders, applications to relocate both internally and internationally and Article 15 Brussels ii.

She able to represent her client’s case in a persuasive manner and achieve the optimum outcome.

She has particular experience in the most complex cases involving a Rule 16.4 appointment of a Children’s Guardian or NYAS worker.

Notable Cases

  • Re: K

    Recent experience of representing a mother in a contested High Court wardship against leading counsel, involving complex DNA and paternity issues with an international element.

  • Re: N

    Acted for a vulnerable mother in a two day finding of fact hearing in which Special Measures were required so that mother could give her evidence from behind a screen. Comprehensive findings were made in her favour.

  • R: G

    Acted for a mother who was assisted by an interpreter in a case involving complex police information and immigration/Home Office issues. The client had been the subject of many years of the most serious domestic and sexual violence.

‘Very experienced in complex public law children cases.’
Legal 500 2018 (Family)

"Recommended for a broad range of family matters."
Legal 500 2017 (Family)

"Her broad family practice includes public and private law children disputes, and family finance matters."
Legal 500 2016 (Family)

"She is extremely thorough and her attention to detail is phenomenal."
Legal 500 2015 (Family)

"A specialist in all areas of family law, particularly public law children cases involving allegations of abuse."
Legal 500 2014 (Family)

Recommended and "appeared in the Court of Appeal case of Re: M (children), a case in which parents had been denied access to children following physical abuse."
Legal 500 2013 (Family)

"Covers the full spectrum of family law."
Legal 500 2012 (Family)

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

Articles:

  • 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)

Review:

  • ‘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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