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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 for Bios 2042      Family Preeminent 2023      Best Lawyers Logo7

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.

Client feedback:

  • “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 feedback, The Legal 500, Asia Pacific, Dispute Resolution 2024

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

  • Best Lawyers, Leading Authority in Family Law for 2024 and 2025
  • NZ Lawyer Elite Women List 2021 and 2022
  • Doyles Guide, Preeminent Lawyer, Family and Relationship Property 2022 and 2023
  • Doyles Guide, Leading Lawyer, Family and Relationship Property 2021
  • Recommended Lawyer, Dispute Resolution, The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024
  • Stephanie is the former Hamilton Convenor for 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



  • P v W [2023] NZFC 7537 (Family Court) Stephanie appeared as senior counsel in respect of another successful application for compensation for economic disparity under s15 of the Property (Relationships) Act.
  • V v V  [2022] NZFC 8027 (Family Court). Stephanie appeared as senior counsel in a successful application to  set aside a contracting out agreement entered into under s21 of the Property (Relationships) Act 

  • S v S [2022] NZFC 8755. Stephanie appeared as senior counsel in a successful application for compensation for economic disparity under s15 of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.

    W v H [2021] NZFC 9742 (Family Court). Stephanie appeared as senior counsel in a successful opposition to an application for occupation and tenancy orders in respect of a property owned by a trust.
  • Re Moore [2020] NZHC 2977 (High Court, Muir J). Stephanie appeared as senior counsel in a successful application for orders validating a draft, unsigned will after the will-maker passed away before she was able to formally execute the will.
  • Kirby v Kirby [2020] NZHC 401 (High Court, Venning J). Stephanie appeared as senior counsel in a successful application to obtain discovery of documents in an estate claim. The estate had been left to a family trust and nothing had been left to the deceased's children.
  • L v S [2019] NZFC 8031 (Family Court). Stephanie appeared as senior counsel in a successful application for an order dissolving marriage following a defended hearing where the separation date was at issue.
  • G v T [2019] NZFC 8493 (Family Court). Stephanie appeared as senior counsel in a successful opposition to a claim that the couple were in a qualifying de facto relationship, which would have resulted in an equal division of relationship property.
  • Scott v Williams [2018] NZSC 37 (Supreme Court). Stephanie appeared in the Supreme Court with David Goddard QC in a successful opposition to an application for interest on an economic disparity payment. This is the leading case on whether interest should be paid from the date of separation when the court makes an economic disparity award under s 15 of the Property (Relationships) Act.

  • 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.

Stephanie has presented a number of seminars including:



  • February 2024: NZLS Asset Protection Update ‘Key Case law developments’
  • March 2023: Legalwise ‘Estate Disputes and Contested Probate ‘Claims by Surviving Partners’
  • June 2022: Legalwise 'Traditional Farm Structures are they fit for purpose and the implications of change.'
  • March 2022: Legalwise PPPR: Basic to Complex Applications - Chair
  • November 2021: Legalwise Estates and Succession: Drafting Essentials 'Drafting Effective Prenuptial Agreements'
  • June 2020: Legalwise Avoiding Wills Disputes and Succession Update 'Knowing Assistance and Testamentary Capacity.'
  • 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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