Armed Forces

Specialist lawyers to members of the armed forces community, both in the UK and international 

Specialist lawyers to members of the armed forces community, both in the UK and international 

Legal services for the armed forces

At Goughs our Armed Forces team is led by Mark Hood, a veteran who served a twenty year Army career in the Royal Logistic Corps as an officer before turning his skills to family law. Not only does Mark therefore understand your world and the challenges that come with it, but he has lived them too.

We are strongly committed to serving the Armed Forces community, and are signatories to the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant. You can read our pledge here.

The Armed Forces Team is exceptionally proud to have been awarded Silver Employer Recognition Scheme status. We are committed to developing our offering for the Services, Ex-Services and MoD community and are working with members of the community to better understand and meet your needs. For Goughs, the Silver award represents a milestone on that journey, and recognition that we are getting it right. We look forward to serving our military, ex-military and MoD community.

Why else should you trust us?

Our lawyers have either served, (in non-legal roles before re-training in law), have close family connections, or a deep interest in the community.

Goughs lawyers have an understanding of the complexities and challenges of service life, as well as the culture within the organisation you’ve worked within.

There is deep expertise in dealing with aspects of MoD systems including pensions, forces help to buy and service leavers.

Legal services for military families​

As part of our commitment to the armed forces, we offer all members of the armed forces and veterans, spouses, reservists and MoD personnel:

• An initial appointment free of charge, face-to-face or by telephone, at a date and time convenient to you. 

• A 10% discount on all Goughs’ fees

• Fixed fees for some areas of work

• Complete transparency and clarity on all fees.

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The largest team of armed forces legal experts in the South West

Our legal expertise

We provide expertise in areas of law relevant to your needs, so that you can have complete confidence that you are in safe hands.

• Family law for military families – including Service pensions on divorce, protecting assets in nuptial agreements and resolving disputes in relation to children

• Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Estate Planning – to ensure that your wishes are followed during your lifetime and after your death

• Residential and investment property – we have particular expertise in the Forces Help to Buy scheme and advising landlords and other property owners

Business advice – on leaving the service you may be unsure of where to turn for advice on setting up your own business, purchasing a business or simply looking for inspiration on what to do next.

Your armed forces team

Annie James

Solicitor

Annie qualified as a Private Client solicitor in 2016 and joined Goughs in February 2020. She specialises in the preparation of Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, preparation and administration of Trusts, and the administration of Estates. Annie prides herself on taking the time to really understand the needs and priorities of her clients.

Hollie Plumb

Solicitor

Hollie started her training contract in September 2019 and for the majority of her training contract and since qualifying in September 2021, has been working closely with Gemma Sumsion in the Corporate and Commercial Team. 

Elizabeth Stiddard

Contentious Private Client Paralegal

Elizabeth is a Contentious Private Client Paralegal. Her passion for private client work stemmed from her training period at Goughs, when she realised that she had a natural empathy with clients and their difficult and challenging situations, and could use the law to help them to achieve the positive outcomes that they deserved.

Matthew Drew

Managing Partner & Finance Partner

As an experienced lawyer in the Family Department, Matthew specialises in complex, high-value financial cases following on from divorce and separation. Matthew also has a great deal of experience in private law Children Act cases.

Amy Moran

Chartered Legal Executive

Amy began at Goughs in 2015 as a Legal Secretary in the Family Department. She moved to the Residential Property Department as a Trainee in 2017, and qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive in 2019.

Mark Hood

Solicitor & Head of Armed Forces Sector

Mark completed a twenty-year Army career in the Royal Logistic Corps as an officer before changing tack to pursue a career in the law. Mark has a particular interest in, and an understanding of the effect that life in the military has when facing relationship upheaval or other related family law problems.

Georgina Catlin

Associate Solicitor

Georgina has been practicing Family Law for over four years, qualifying as a Solicitor in 2018, and joining Goughs in 2019. Over the years she has developed a strong ability to empathise with others whilst also delivering firm and clear advice to clients to ensure their best interests are protected.

Our clients rate us excellent

Sue Greenman

Everything was completed professionally and within my tight time scales. I would like to say thank you and would definitely go back to Goughs should I need help in the future.

Ali McBrine

Thank you Alice Blackmore for your fantastic professional support, with care, compassion and kindness, of our need for explanation and understanding of the system and language in a lot of correspondence. Thank you too for being always being honest and empathic of our feelings.

Andrew Alvis

Another well-managed transaction handled promptly and professionally by Nadine Cook and her team. We have used Goughs before, will use again and would not hesitate to recommend their services to anybody.

Phil Carter

Goughs Solicitors provide a friendly, professional and extremely reassuring service. The whole team, especially Georgina Catlin, are empathetic and provide sound advice when required, you definitely feel you are in safe hands.

Your armed forces legal
questions answered

There are a number of pensions schemes that a service person may be a member of, each with their own intricacies and rules.  The pension will often represent the largest asset in a marriage and require specialist knowledge to deal with it fairly on divorce.

How then should it be treated by the parties when trying to achieve a fair financial settlement?  The main options currently available are:

1. Offsetting

2. Pension attachment

3. Pension sharing

For further details on the pros and cons of each option and which might be best for you, get in touch with a specialist lawyer.

Yes absolutely. A member of our dedicated armed forces team is a residential property practitioner who specialises in Forces Help to Buy agreements. 

The Forces Help to Buy Scheme (FHTB) can be a considerable benefit to service personnel.  It enables you to borrow a percentage of your salary, up to a maximum loan amount of £25,000.

The loan is interest free, does not have to be secured against your property by way of a charge (unlike a commercial mortgage), and can be used for the purchase of your first home, if you move to another property on assignment, or indeed as your needs change. It is currently a pilot scheme.  Its aim is to address the low rate of home ownership in the forces. 

To qualify for the Forces Help to Buy Scheme there are certain criteria which will need to be meet, in that you must:-

  • Have completed the pre-requisite length of service

  • Have more than 6 months left to serve at the time you apply

  • Meet the relevant medical criteria

The loan is repayable by monthly instalments over 10 years, provided that each monthly payment is met.  The monies will be repayable through your service pay or settlement payment.

Your forces Will will essentially be a basic document. At Goughs we offer a full service of private client advise to include not only your Will, but also advice on lasting powers of attorney, estate and future planning and tax planning. 

A Will is only one of many documents you may need to consider to protect yourself, your future, your family and your finances. 

The need for a Will is even greater if you own a property, are married, in a civil partnership or with a long-term partner, or have children. The only way to ensure your estate passes to the people you wish, and in the way you intend, is to make a Will. Without a Will your estate will pass in accordance with the complex intestacy rules, which may not match your wishes and are regularly subject to change by the government. Don’t risk it!

If you have children under the age of 18, you can name guardians in your Will. If you and your children’s other parent were to die without having named guardians, there would be nobody with parental responsibility to care for your children. In this situation, the Court may become involved, which would be very distressing for your children at a time when they are already grieving.

As a member of the Armed Forces it is especially important to take professional advice on making a Will and estate planning, as there are certain provisions which specifically apply to military personnel.

One area of specialist advice and expertise that Goughs offer is that of setting up your own business.

We understand that the skills and experience you have acquired are unrivalled and so we are here to help you put those to good use in your next career move. Get in touch with our commercial and corporate team for further information. 

Yes absolutely, with British Forces stationed around the world (and of course serving at sea), we have enabled processes and procedures to support you wherever you are.

Separation from family and friends can create a challenge to marriages and other relationships, and if things do become difficult you may also feel you don’t have anyone on hand to provide advice and support.

Fortunately, at Goughs we have considerable experience in advising and acting for people spread around the globe. Many of our clients tell us that they find us invaluable as a listening ear and moral support, as well as their expert legal adviser. And, of course, they do need access to advice from a solicitor practising English law, as in family law matters it’s very likely that English law will apply to their situation.

In fact, it’s vital to take advice from an English solicitor urgently if you have a family law problem abroad, because there’s a possibility that another legal jurisdiction (perhaps the country in which you’re stationed) may also have the power to deal with the situation, which may not be to your advantage, particularly where children issues are concerned.

What about the practical challenges of engaging with a solicitor when you’re abroad?

Well, some professional formalities do need to be tackled. We have to verify the identity and address of all our clients. This usually takes the form of your passport and a recent utility bill or bank statement, but other documentation may do the job.

If we don’t meet you face to face initially, you will need to liaise with an authorised person abroad who can verify your papers in your presence – don’t worry about the details, we’ll take you through all that when you get in touch with us. As far as ongoing communication is concerned, our lawyers are very comfortable dealing with their clients by telephone and email, and have extensive experience in doing just that.

We all have a few clients who we’ve never even met, because they are based some distance from our offices in Wiltshire – but that doesn’t prevent us from being with them every step of the way.

So, don’t feel you’ve got nowhere to turn. Get in touch with Goughs. And if you do return to the UK, come and see us – it’s always great to meet face-to-face.

Goughs offer many corporate services to the spouse of a service person, including running a business, employment advice, corporate secretarial services, and many more.

forces pension society logo

Goughs joining forces with The Forces Pension Society

The Forces Pension Society is an independent, not-for-profit membership funded organisation that acts as a pension watchdog for the whole military community. The Society guides its members on the technical aspects of their Armed Forces Pension, campaigns against any injustices in the policy provision or mal-administration of Armed Forces Pensions, and educates the wider Armed Forces community on all pension matters.

Specialist lawyers to members of the armed forces

Local since 1882, with an excellent reputation

First-class, effective service

Largest solicitors in Wiltshire

Seven offices throughout the county

Nationally accredited law firm

Recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners

The latest armed forces sector news and updates

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