In response to growing demand on its family legal services, Dutton Gregory Solicitors has welcomed four new faces to its offices in Hampshire and Dorset that combine a variety of specialisms in the sector.
After completing her studies in law at the University of Bristol, Helen Cort has spent the past 16 years building her career and adapting to numerous changes in family law.
‘As the profession, followed by the government, embraced and then championed ways of couples parting ways as amicably as possible, I became a firm believer in Collaborative Law and helping people communicate with each other about their future,’ says Helen, who is not only Co-Chair of the Solent Collaborative & Mediation Group, but is a Top Recommended Lawyer in the prestigious Spear’s 500 guide.
‘Whilst it is positive that more and more couples are finding solutions together and avoiding the time and expense involved in fighting, professional expertise is still needed to guide them through the process.’
Helen joins Dutton Gregory Solicitors’ Partnership and Hampshire offices with Paul Lindsell who began his work in family law in 2004 and agrees with her assessment of how the profession has developed in recent years.
‘When I started, the perceived value of a good lawyer was as one that could stand their ground in court, win an argument and gain as much from the other side as possible, but now it is about how to best support people moving forward with their lives, especially when families are involved.’
It is in this area that Paul has built in an impressive reputation. ‘I have worked on a variety of emotional and complex cases involving the care and welfare of children and, though demanding, have taken great pride in resolving them.’
However, there are times when couples can’t agree and, over in Bournemouth, Senior Associate Sara Gilak has 15 years’ experience representing clients in contentious cases.
‘Upon separation there can be disagreements between estranged couples as to the division of capital assets and income streams, and negotiations to try and reach a settlement are often complex and emotive,’ Sara explains. ‘If no settlement can be reached the parties will need to navigate the Court process to obtain the financial security they should strive for.’
After studying law in both her hometown of Bournemouth and at King’s College London, Sara deals with all financial cases involving for example pension sharing, spousal maintenance, businesses, and property. ‘It is vital people understand that obtaining a Financial Order after divorce is key to secure their financial future. Without it, they are left vulnerable”.
Sara is joined in Bournemouth by solicitor Shannon Montgomery, who knew from when she started her professional training contract in 2018 that family was the area of law she wanted to pursue.
‘It is tremendously satisfying to guide clients through what is often one of the most difficult times in their lives,’ she says. ‘We are here to resolve conflict, provide advice and give guidance so that parties find a way to move on with their lives after their relationship has broken down.”
But Shannon is also keen to air a note of caution. ‘Though we welcomed ‘No Fault Divorce’ earlier this year, couples still need professional advice that ensures they have covered every aspect of their lives before agreeing to a divorce, most importantly in respect of the parties finances and child arrangements.’
‘To strengthen our offering with such a breadth of knowledge, experience and skill is a pivotal moment for our Family Team,’ says Managing Partner, Andrew Tilley. ‘We are delighted to have Helen, Paul, Sara and Shannon join us and wish them every success in this exciting new chapter.’