GREAT NEWS – NOW AVAILABLE – WEB-BASED REMOTE SESSIONS
For those who live outside of the Tampa Bay area, we now offer web-based remote sessions. This means that if a party cannot appear in person we can proceed remotely without losing the ability to truly interact. This allows us to be able to meet and communicate in a similar (but not in person) fashion. During the remote sessions, either party can communicate exclusively with the parenting coordinator or the mediator. In addition, this allows us to draft any agreement during the sessions, which will appear on the screen for all to see. All that is needed is a web cam. For those who don’t have one, we can overnight the equipment (deposit required). Slight increase in fees applies.
Johanne Valois Shoffstall, founder of Parenting Coordination and Mediation Services, Inc., is an attorney licensed by the Florida Bar since 1994. For over 15 years, she has been a litigator practicing exclusively in the field of family related matters, including parenting issues, property division, also known as equitable distribution, alimony, child support, domestic violence and more.
Johanne Valois Shoffstall is a member of the Florida Bar (Family Law Section),U.S. Federal Court, Middle District of Florida, the Hillsborough County Bar(Family Law Section), the American Inns of Courts (Family Law Chapter), Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and its Florida Chapter. She is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and is qualified as a Parenting Coordinator in accordance with section 61.125, Florida Statutes, which took effect October 1, 2009.
Over the course of the last 16 years, she has litigated hundreds of family law cases, involving countless family issues, including high conflict parenting issues, equitable distribution, child support, alimony, domestic violence and attorneys fees. While her efforts as a litigator over the years were focused on the pure representation of her clients, inevitably, she also became a parenting facilitator, a divorce coach, an advocate, a mediator, sometimes an arbitrator, to mention but a few hats she wore in order to avoid the pitfalls of overly emotional, unreasonable litigation. Regardless of not only her ability, but her desire to fully represent her clients, the fact remained that in order to minimize the trauma of divorce and/or separation both sides had to be on board. That did not always happen. While there is a good number of attorneys who take their role seriously and care to avoid costly legal battles, not all do.
Through the years, as an attorney and an advocate, she continued to handle these situations with an evolving outlook on the cases. Separation and/or divorce is traumatic. Often times one party wants it while the other does not. Attorneys are in a unique position. People are so emotionally vulnerable. Litigation should be the last resort; there is a better way.
All divorcing/separating people, parents or not, have various issues. Indeed, the emotional trauma of separation affects all people in that situation, whether same sex-couples, married couples, unmarried couples, in summary, all walks of life. Those who jump into litigation, sometimes into high conflict cases — with prominent or not-so-prominent attorneys — forget that e veryonehas issues. That includes attorneys, judges, mental health professionals, guardians ad litem, forensic accountants, etc. Everyone deals with their own issues that are certain to influence their reactions to various situations; this includes those who are hired to help the parties as well as those who are there to make decisions about various situations. No one is exempt from the challenges of life. Would anyone be interested in having a divorcing judge make decisions with respect to an issue he/she is dealing with at the time? How can one tell? Who wants to take a chance?
Over time, after having been involved in so many various cases, Johanne Valois Shoffstall has become somewhat cynical about the judicial process. Over the course of the years, she has seen so many divorcing spouses who had become so inflexible in their own positions that they were willing to ask a judge – most of the time, a complete stranger — to decide the very issues that caused them to be so entrenched to begin with. The results were not always what the inflexible party sought to achieve. Sometimes, the results were welcome and sometimes they were not.
Anytime a couple separates, with or without children, it is painful. Whether it becomes expensive is widely believed to be the parties’ decision. That is not necessarily true. The best approach is to guide the couple through that unpleasant journey, helping them maintain as much dignity as possible under the circumstances. Litigation rarely, if ever, achieves that. At times, litigation may seem like a quick fix when it comes to feeling empowered, but any empowerment is sure to be short-lived.
As the years went by, it became clear to her that the only way to achieve the goal of helping people maintain their dignity and feel empowered during that difficult time in their lives was through mediation and alternate dispute resolution. Parenting coordination is an important addition to this list of alternatives to litigation. Is there such a thing as a “peaceful divorce”? a divorce “without war”? She believes there is.
In her continuing search for a more positive approach to separation, divorce, children’s issues, domestic violence and other areas that may become high conflict, she became increasingly more interested in mediation and the parenting coordination process. Of course, not all people are initially able to successfully mediate or participate in that process. Often people need the hybrid services that a parenting coordinator provides.
Johanne Valois Shoffstall further believes that parenting coordination can be used by parents on their own. She believes that education is necessary for people to use that service on their own to help create, implement and follow up on their parenting plans. While the law provides for the court to appoint a parent coordinator in certain cases, people don’t need that court order and should use the services of a parenting coordinator/facilitator to help them navigate out of their conflicts.
The time has come to expand energy and efforts toward the positive alternatives. With a clear vision, a lot of pain can be avoided. And with the same clear vision, Johanne Valois Shoffstall can provide positive guidance… even to those who may not initially realize that they could benefit from such services.
In these times where people move about the country and world to find work, don’t let relocation or geographic issues hinder the process of mediation and/or parenting coordination. Web-based remote sessions available upon request.
All of the above and more is why Johanne Valois Shoffstall founded Parenting Coordination and Mediation Services, Inc.
Don’t hesitate to call us. We look forward to a successful resolution of whatever your particular case brings our way.