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Meet the Family Team

Melanie Dunton – Partner and Head of Private Client Department

Melanie joined the firm in 1986  initially working in all areas of the law. As the firm expanded she headed our Family Department and specialised in finance, pensions and mediation. She now heads our Private Client Department assisting clients with the financial aspects of wills, trusts, taxation and probate.

Tessa Bengo – Partner

Tessa qualified as a Solicitor in 1990 and became a partner at Thomas Dunton in 2002. She is currently Head of the Family Team and specialises in Children Law and Financial issues arising on relationship breakdown (divorce/separation) including Trust of Land proceedings in respect of unmarried partners.

In addition Tessa also specialises in  public law care cases and is an Accredited Law Society Children Panel Solicitor as well as a member of the Association of Lawyers for children.


RuchiRuchi Keerthiratna — Solicitor

Ruchi qualified as a solicitor in 1991, dealing with Family and Employment Law in the London and Kent areas. She joined Thomas Dunton in 2012 where she specialises in family financial issues and matters relating to children following the breakdown of relationships. Ruchi is a member of Resolution (Solicitors Family Law Association). She also carried out voluntary work as an adviser for the Citizens Advice Bureau and at an advice centre for abused families. Ruchi is fluent in Sinhalese.

2016-02-23 15.42.10 (1)Maria James — Solicitor

Maria joined the firm in February 2016 from a City practice. Qualifying in 1994, she has worked exclusively in Family and Matrimonial Law since 1997 dealing with a mixed caseload of divorce, dissolution and separation matters, many with complex financial aspects. She advises and represents clients in Children Act matters relating to Child Arrangement Orders, Specific Issue and Prohibited Steps orders as well as leave to remove children from the jurisdiction. Maria also has a particular interest in international children cases and the firm are panel members of the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU) meaning Maria receives instructions to act for parents from around the world whose children have been brought to the UK by the other parent against their wishes as well as from those parents who have come to the UK with their children but not necessarily with the agreement of the other.  She advises on adoption and parental orders following a surrogacy arrangement. Maria is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in Financial Remedy, Children Act work and Child Abduction as well as a qualified Collaborative Lawyer

In addition to the Solicitors mentioned above, the Family Team at Thomas Dunton also currently includes 2 other experienced Solicitors specialising in complex financial cases, domestic violence and Public Law child care proceedings.

For more information and advice please call our Family Team on 01689 822554 or

Family & Children

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What our clients say about us:

  • “We have both been impressed with your diligent and thorough conveyancing, highlighting issues with the property that had been missed during the previous sale”.

  • “Catherine Westcott truly helped us beyond her duty and was always there for us, going that extra mile made all the difference”.

  • “All very satisfactory, efficient and approachable. We now look upon Thomas Dunton as our solicitors”.

  • “Extremely satisfied with the service that you have provided. We will be recommending Thomas Dunton to our family and friends”. 

  • “Great patience and great deal of thought to ensure our Will achieved our complicated requirements. Thank you”.

  • “I found the staff I dealt with professional, practical and patient…helping to clarify matters and enabling me to take better informed decisions”.

  • “Wonderful and understanding of my circumstances. Guided me through the process and presented all the options in a way that I could understand”.

  • “Thank you for all your hard work. You have been amazing. I will forever be thankful that you were my solicitor”.

  • “The service was exceptional —  friendly, welcoming and sympathetic. I do not think that I could have received a better service anywhere else“.

  • “No words to express my gratitude to your amazing work and patience”.

  • “Thank you very much for the courtesy, care and efficiency which we have received from you and everyone we have dealt with at Thomas Dunton”. 

  • “Thank you so much for all your help for my family and I.  I am so very  grateful.  You’re  my little Christmas angels”

  • “What you all do for people is amazing. You should all be proud of yourselves for putting a little bit of light back in my life and I’m most certain that of others”

  • “The firm give their clients very detailed and clear advice in plain English.”

  • “Extremely friendly, did not feel that anything was too much trouble”.

  • “I received a very prompt, professional and caring service from you at a very sad and distressing time”.


  • “Thank you all for your amazing support throughout last year.  You really are a fabulous team”.


  • “It really was a hideous experience, but every time I got to the point I couldn’t breathe and I spoke to one of you, I felt instantly strong again”.

  •  “You made me giggle and reassured me whenever I was about to cry or hide in a cupboard, often picking up the phone to check I was ok – so very kind”.


  • “Vernon Hadida is by far the best solicitor I have ever dealt with.”

  • “Extremely satisfied with the service which I considered excellent value for money.”

  • “I was very happy with the service. I was always able to speak to somebody that could help me when I telephoned.”

  • “Thank you for all your work on my claim. I am extremely grateful for your assistance.”

  • “Thomas Dunton exceeded my expectations in terms of both service quality and value for money.”