Peace in the family = Piece of mind.

My name is Diane Danois.  I am an attorney, a wife, and a stepmother.  I am also a former litigator, who knows her way through the court system.  I know how legal fees and costs are run up, and I know how to strategically approach a case to keep those same costs down.   It has been my professional and personal experience that litigators are motivated to zealously represent their clients, without necessarily considering the emotional tolls and financial costs of that representation.

Mediation, in contrast, seeks resolution in a neutral and cost effective environment.   Even after all my years in the profession, I learned this fact the hard (and expensive) way.

My personal experience in family law was extremely unpleasant and a big eye-opener.  Forget professional courtesies.  Forget civility.  Forget even the most basic expectation of truth.  My experience was raw, where dishonesty reigned over justice effectively stalling the proceedings, and where judges were more interested in percentages than in actual case law, truth and justice.    Every day was about fighting over alimony, bickering over child support, and trying to use the children as pawns or pegging them against each other to support one parent over the other.  It was ugly.  Behaviors were despicable and unforgivable.  In the end, after both sides incurred insane legal fees, we ended up with the exact result that should have been reached without all of the tumultuous litigation.  To this day, I am convinced that the legal battle was fought because of the lawyers involved.  One lawyer was so emotionally tied to the case and inept at family law that she was doing things that were absolutely against the best interests of her client.  Today, now that the case was resolved and the lawyers have collected their fees, we’re all left to figure out how to move forward and raise our children.  And the lawyers have moved on to other clients.

Had I known then what I know now, I would have tried harder to push for meaningful mediation (I say “meaningful,” because not all mediators are effective mediators.  In our case, the mediator failed miserably, when he passed judgment on the parties and lost his neutrality.). I would have been less concerned with truth and justice, and focused more on resolution.

Litigation is only about winning.  It doesn’t care about the collateral damage that results from years of stress.  It doesn’t care about the financial burdens to the parties.  It doesn’t even care about the truth or appropriate remedies to a dispute.  Litigators are trained to be competitive, at all costs.  Mediation, in contrast,  is  instead focused on helping the parties achieve their own solutions.  This  process is extremely empowering to both parties, and removes all outsiders from the equation.

In my role as a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law mediator, I want to help couples avoid the pitfalls I fell through.  Even if you are already engaged in a litigious process, it’s not too late to re-evaluate and consider mediation.  If you have questions about my experience or want to know more about this process, please contact me.


Diane L. Danois