Madeleine is a family barrister specialising in all areas of children law, with a particular emphasis on matters involving harm to children. Maddie has broad experience in public, private, international and non-traditional children cases, which includes acting in cases involving fact-findings of sexual abuse or catastrophic physical injury. Maddie has experience in cases involving cross-border disputes, adoption and complex safeguarding matters and has built a strong reputation in cases involving emotional, psychological, sexual or physical harm to children. Maddie has experience in the High Court acting alone and as a junior, and has a growing practice in surrogacy, donor-conceived children and LGBTQ+ issues.

Maddie is committed to the publicly funded bar and accepts instructions in all areas of children law; she is a regular contributor to the Family Law Journal and Family Law Week and previously hosted a fortnightly podcast on current family law issues.

Key cases & testimonials

B (a father) v M (a mother) [2023] EWFC 281 (B) 

B (a father v M (a mother) [2023] EWFC 282 (B) 

A & Ors (Fact Finding) [2020] EWFC 108 

Extensive experience of fact-findings involving significant allegations of abuse to children and parents.

Acted in the High Court for return orders to non-Hague countries including India and Nigeria.

Experience of multi-day, complex fact-findings involving catastrophic injury to children and multiple instruction and cross-examination of experts.

Successfully challenged Cafcass report in relation to child arrangements and relocation.

Acted for LGBTQ+ parents in securing parental orders and protecting legal parenthood.

Madeleine Whelan is forensic and quick on her feet. It's amazing to watch her cross-examine. Chambers & Partners - 2024
A really excellent, committed advocate. Chambers & Partners - 2024
Madeleine is a fierce defender of her client’s case and is persuasive in her advocacy. Her quick grasp of the facts of a case and ability to assimilate complex information is very impressive.Legal 500, Rising Star - 2024

Areas of expertise

All areas of private and public children law, including e.g. applications under the HFEA 2008; deprivation of liberty applications and international, cross-border applications.

Extensive experience of complex care work, including allegations of serious sexual, physical or psychological harm to children.

Experience in the Family and High Court in relation to international relocation, return and child arrangements.

Further information

BPP Law School, BPTC, 2017

Downing College, University of Cambridge (MA) 2016

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Erasmus) 2014 – 15