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Stephanie Ambler

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Stephanie Ambler


To make an appointment, please contact Glenda Taylor glenda.taylor@tompkinswake.co.nz

Qualifications : BA, LLB, University of Auckland.

Recommended Lawyer 2022 Legal 517 Doyles Preeminent for SHA website profile2 Leading Lawyer Doyles Guide 2021 for Website Profile SHA2 Elite Women List SHA Logo 2022

Stephanie specialises in family, matrimonial and trust law, particularly in the areas of relationship property disputes and claims against estates and trusts. Stephanie advises couples on relationship property agreements, both at the commencement of a relationship and on separation. Stephanie’s other practice areas include applications for the appointment of property managers and welfare guardians, parenting orders and agreements, paternity and adoptions, child support and spousal support. 

Stephanie joined Tompkins Wake in 2013 and became a partner in 2014. Stephanie leads Tompkins Wake's Family Law practice and has been named as a recommended lawyer in The Legal 500 Asia Pacific.

Stephanie Ambler is an outstanding partner in the estate, trust and and relationship property litigation area. She has comprehensive knowledge and is responsive and cost-effective.

- Client testimonial, The Legal 500, Asia Pacific, Dispute Resolution

Areas of expertise

  • Adoption
  • Care of Children
  • Child Support
  • Dissolution (Divorce)
  • International Family Law
  • Relationship Property Disputes
  • Spousal Maintenance
  • Trust Litigation and Dispute Resolution
  • Relationship Property Agreements
  • Contracting Out/Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Other credentials

  • Doyles Guide, Preeminent Lawyer, Family and Relationship Property, 2022
  • NZ Lawyer Elite Women List 2021
  • Doyles Guide, Leading Lawyer, Family and Relationship Property, 2021
  • Recommended Lawyer, Dispute Resolution, The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2020, 2021 and 2022
  • Stephanie is a committee member of the NZLS Waikato/Bay of Plenty Women in Law Association and a member of the Family Law Section.
  • Her previous appointments include NZLS Standards Committee (2011 -2013), NZLS Relationship Property Standing Committee (2008- 2009), Secretary of the Auckland Family Courts Association (2004 – 2006)

Professional history

  • Tompkins Wake, 2013 - present
  • Simpson Grierson, 2006 - 2013
  • Brookfields, 1999 - 2006


  • Green v Green [2016] NZCA 486 (Court of Appeal) Stephanie appeared as junior counsel for Alice Piper, one of the beneficiaries of the Hugh Green Trusts.   The Court of Appeal decision is an  important case on the scope of appellate review and the law on undue influence.
  • Clayton v Clayton [2016] NZSC 30, [2016] 1 NZLR 590, (2016) 4 NZTR 26-003, [2016] NZFLR 189 (Supreme Court).  Stephanie was the instructing solicitor for Mr Clayton in his appeal to the Supreme Court.  This well known case concerned whether powers within a trust deed could constitute “property” under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 and a claim under s182 of the Family Proceedings Act 1980 for orders against trust assets.

  • Thompson v Thompson [2015] NZSC 26, [2015] 1 NZLR 593, (2015) 4 NZTR 25-006, [2015] NZFLR 150, (2015) 30 FRNZ 123 (Supreme Court).   Stephanie appeared as junior counsel for Mrs Thompson bringing an end to an 10-year relationship property dispute with a successful result. This decision recognising the importance of domestic contributions in lengthy marriages.

  • Green v Green [2015] NZHC 1218; [2015] NZHC 1526 (High Court, Winklemann J)  Stephanie appeared as junior counsel for Alice Piper, one of the beneficairies of the Hugh Green Trusts.  The High Court decision saw the removal of purported trustees and directors of the Hugh Green Group on the grounds that their appointments were invalid, and their continuation in office was not in the interest of beneficiaries due to their hostility towards Alice and her mother Maryanne Green.

  • SM v LFDB [2015] NZHC 2630, (High Court, Ellis J)  Stephanie appeared as senior counsel in a successful application for orders under the Property (Relationships) Act.  This case involved a highly fractious property dispute following a de facto relationship of 14 years.
  • Thompson v Thompson [2014] NZCA 117, [2014] 2 NZLR 741, [2014] NZFLR 507, (2014) 29 FRNZ 810 (Court of Appeal). Stephanie appeared as junior counsel in the substantive appeal under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 and argued the opposition to the appeal from the High Court decision of Justice Andrews granting Mrs Thompson a stay of enforcement of Family Court orders.

  • J v P [2013] NZHC 557 (High Court, Mallon J). Successful appeal against discovery orders made against Mr J, with the Court accepting that staged discovery orders were appropriate in relationship property cases.
  • Simpson v Johnson [2013] NZFLR 628  (High Court, Gilbert J).  Appeal regarding setting aside a contracting out agreement, valuation of a life interest and a claim in constructive trust.

  • JAH v AHH [2012] NZFC 4756 (Family Court). Successful application for an interim distribution of relationship property involving a debt back from a trustees of a family trust.

  • MFC v PJC [2012] NZFC 10045 (Family Court). Successul opposition to application to enforce a relationship property agreement and cross application for orders to vary the terms of a maintenance agreement under s182(1) of the Family Proccedings Act 1980.

  • DODW v PTW  (2010) CIV 2010-404-6314 (High Court, Peters J)Successful opposition to appeal from a Family Court decision under the Family Protection Act 1955 involving cultural issues, as to whom should be the custodian or kaitiaka of land.

  • Fielding v Burrell [2007] 26 FRNZ 346 (High Court, Venning J).  Successful opposition to appeal from a Family Court decision ordering the sale and division of a home owned by a family trust under s182(5) of the Family Proceedings Act 1980.

Stephanie has presented a number of seminars including:

  • November 2019: Legalwise Trusts and Estates Symposium: Relationship Property Case Law Update
  • October 2018: Legalwise Family Law: Property Division, Trusts and Companies - Case Update: Relationship Property, Trust and Estate Litigation
  • June 2018: NZLS Relationship Property Intensive 'Scott v Williams, The Future of s15 - Clear as Mud'
  • May 2018: ADLS Relationship Property: Lessons to be Learnt from Two Cases 'Scott v Williams'
  • Sept 2016: NZLS Relationship Property Intensive 'Hot Sections'
  • Sept 2016: ADLS Assisting First-Time Home Buyers 'Family Law Issues' 
  • Oct 2015: NZLS Family Law Conference workshop 'Advocacy'
  • June 2014: NZLS Property Law Conference 'Fence or Ambulance'
  • Nov 2011: NZLS Family Law Conference 'Section 21 agreements'
  • Aug 2010: NZLS Relationship Property Intensive 'Interim Trust Remedies'
  • July 2007: Lexis Nexis Property Relationships Masterclass Where there's a wrong there's a remedy
  • Aug 2005: Lexis Nexis Property Relationships Skills Accelerator ‘Pitfalls & Obligations'
  • April 2005: Lexis Nexis Family Advocacy Skills Accelerator 'Adjustments'

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