Family Law in Partnership is an award-winning team of specialist family lawyers, mediators, arbitrators and family consultants

Ruth Smallacombe

Mediator and Family Consultant


Ruth is a senior accredited mediator and counsellor, practice consultant and trainer of mediators, lawyers and therapists. She has over 30 years’ experience in family, mental health and human relations, both in the public and private sectors.

“Relationship breakdown affects individuals on an emotional, practical and financial level and often has a major impact on children. People are faced with the most difficult issues and decisions at a time when they feel least well equipped to deal with them. I help people to focus on what is important, to understand and deal with the practicalities and problems and to rebuild their lives in a positive way.”

Ruth has been ranked as a leading family mediator by The Legal 500 UK for many years. The 2020 edition notes that Ruth is one of “the stand out mediators in the firm…with vast experience and… a high level of referral work from the “Magic Circle” firms”. Previous editions have noted that Ruth is “calm and compassionate, and brings her extensive experience from the counselling and therapeutic world to her practice as a mediator”. She is “valued for her understanding that “solutions to family legal, financial and parenting issues are not found within the remit of the courtroom but rather through conversations and constructive engagement””. She has “a vast range of skills, expertise and experience.” Many of Ruth’s referrals come from some of the best family lawyers and she is well known for her listening skills and her pragmatic and sensible approach to the resolution of relationship issues. Her track record of getting to lasting agreements and enabling couples to have good post separation relationships is second to none.

Ruth’s expertise covers the full spectrum of family issues ranging from divorce and separation (including finance and housing matters) to children matters (including residence and contact issues, international relocation of children and schooling) and mediation in relation to pre- and post-nuptial agreements, civil partnership and cohabitation agreements. She offers preparation and support to couples about to embark on mediation with other firms or court proceedings. Ruth also acts as a family consultant and sees clients in conjunction with her lawyer colleagues, including collaborative lawyers, where she offers consultation on child related, emotional and psychological aspects of divorce and separation. Ruth is an experienced counsellor with a depth and breadth of knowledge in this field and can offer couple counselling, when appropriate.

Ruth’s clients include individuals, couples (including same sex couples), family members in dispute and children and young people, whom she sees either as part of their parent’s mediation process or for one to one counselling sessions.

What others say about Ruth:

Excellent, empathetic, with a detailed knowledge of the different emotional issues that clients experience during separation and divorce

“Family law needs more people like Ruth”

“Thank you for your help over the decisions I had to make over the most difficult time”

“I know it is your job but you never made it feel like that”


”Thank you for your advice, support and above all being there for me. You have helped me enormously to navigate this process and to help me feel less alone. I can’t thank you enough”

Ruth’s cases include:

  • Mediating in a high conflict situation where the couple had separated several years earlier and had found it difficult to adjust emotionally and practically. The parents were in litigation about their children, finances and business interests and their children were in the middle of their disputes. After two mediation sessions, which addressed their conflict and lack of cooperation, the parents were able to focus on the needs of their children, whom Ruth also met as part of a child inclusive mediation. Based on their experience of mediation over the children issues, they then chose to address their financial issues in mediation, with solicitors present.
  • Acting as a mediator to a couple. On-going mental health issues affected one member of the couple, requiring an informed and sensitive approach, careful screening and significant liaison with other agencies and family members. A multiparty mediation took place which met the needs of both parties and a financial agreement was reached within three sessions.
  • Mediating a couple who had been married but were now separated. Their only child had been born when they were in the process of separating. The mediation involved five sessions with careful attention to their divorce and transition to their new separated parent relationship. The mediation resulted in agreed arrangements for their baby and a financial plan was later incorporated into a consent order.
  • Acting as a family consultant to a high profile, media shy client who sought privacy and support in the consultation sessions to help resolve a complex family issue.

As a founder member of Family Law in Partnership, Ruth maintains a high profile in the mediation, collaborative and counselling fields. Ruth is a former chair of the Family Mediators Association (FMA) and is a member of the FMA board. She sits on a number of professional committees, including the Voice of the Child Advisory Committee, and is involved in lecturing, charity work and further developing interdisciplinary co-operation for the benefit of families. Ruth is a founder member of Gay Family Lawyers, a service for gay couples and families.

Read Ruth’s recent blogs:

A Childhood in Conflict (or Court) or a Chat with a Family Mediator?

What’s Brexit got to do with my children and divorce?


  • Top_tier_firms