Furley Page strengthens county-wide collaborative law service

20th October 2014

Leading regional law firm Furley Page is strengthening its Collaborative Law service to help make divorce less stressful and costly for clients county-wide.

Family law specialist Naomi Hayward, based at the firm’s Canterbury office, is now a fully-trained Collaborative Lawyer which means she is able to offer clients this increasingly popular alternative method of resolving family disputes without having to go to court.

Furley Page’s expertise in Collaborative Law, which is often far more cost-effective and quicker than the traditional ‘adversarial’ divorce system, now spans the county and Naomi is keen to offer the service to more clients across East Kent.

The growth of the Collaborative Law process in England and Wales has been actively encouraged by both the judiciary and Resolution, an organisation of 5,700 family lawyers who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters. As a member of Resolution, Naomi is passionate about helping people to reach out-of-court agreements and settlements wherever possible.

Traditionally, a separating couple will each instruct a lawyer, with one party bringing the divorce while the other is the receiver of the proceedings. Financial negotiations are then conducted via solicitor correspondence and, ultimately, if agreement cannot be reached, the spouses are likely to end up in court.

In the Collaborative Law process, each person still appoints their own solicitor but both parties and their solicitors then attend several face-to-face meetings and commit from the outset to reach an agreement without going to court.

“The Collaborative Law method has many attractions,” says Naomi, who specialises in issues surrounding divorce, civil partnerships, co-habitation and financial disputes, and matters involving children.

“The whole process is tailored to suit the spouses’ needs and can often lead to quicker, more effective agreements being reached because issues are discussed direct with the other person and your respective lawyers.

“There’s far less paperwork and meetings can be arranged at relatively short notice. Other experts such as IFAs, accountants and counsellors can also be brought into joint meetings to help resolve issues. Most importantly, decisions about the parties’ children, their assets, income and future needs are decided by them, not a judge in a courtroom,” adds Naomi.

Collaborative Law can also be used to resolve other issues involving, for example, children or pre- and post-nuptial agreements.

Unlike in court proceedings, costs can be managed and even fixed where appropriate. The eventual agreement is transposed into a court order and is binding. The process is also far quicker – court proceedings can last 18 months or more whereas a collaborative case can be completed within six months.

Naomi says: “If the divorce involves children, the couple’s relationship isn’t fraught with conflict, and both feel that future co-parenting is important, Collaborative Law is ideal. Ultimately, being happily divorced and effective co-parents is a healthier example to set your children than embittered conflict that will affect the family long after the pronouncement of decree absolute.”

Naomi, who joined Furley Page in 2008, is part of the firm’s highly-regarded Family Law Team, which is recognised by the independent guide The Legal 500 for its expertise.

As well as being a member of Resolution, Naomi is Chairperson of the Young Kent Resolution Committee and a member of the East Kent Collaborative Law Pod.

For further information about family law matters, contact Naomi Hayward.

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