From the Main Line to Bucks County to the home of divorce mediator Joe Dillon’s alma mater - Drexel University in Philadelphia, the Keystone State has shaped him as both a person and a divorce mediator. Having spent nearly 25 years living in and around PA.
We enjoy practicing in PA as it’s not only where Joe spent a significant part of his life, but because it’s also a “mediation first” state. With private mediators like us, judges, and even many divorce lawyers recommending mediation first - because it works.
How do we know mediation works?
Because as of 2017, 100% of our PA divorce mediation clients have come to agreement on all of the issues required to successfully complete their divorce.
Therefore, we can say with absolute confidence that if you and your spouse are willing to mediate your Pennsylvania divorce with us, you’ll have an excellent chance at doing the same!
In PA, we meet with couples in the following locations:
If meeting with us face-to-face is challenging due to personal or professional demands, you or your spouse lives out of state, or you’re simply not located near one of our local locations, you can still work with us using our innovative online divorce mediation program.
If you and your spouse have agreed to divorce and you both want to mediate, book an initial meeting for the two of you.
In Pennsylvania, divorce mediation may be conducted privately or publicly, depending on whether you and your spouse choose to mediate first or hire attorneys first.
If you take the preferred path and choose to mediate first, you would hire a private divorce mediation service like ours, typically before you file with the courts.
Together we would identify, discuss, negotiate and resolve all of the issues surrounding your divorce privately, confidentially and without the use of attorneys, if you so choose.
We’d draft up all of your agreements, gather the required forms, worksheets and discovery documents, and then send you to the filing phase where you’d complete your divorce through the courts.
On the other hand, if you choose to go the attorney route first, you'd likely be sent to court-ordered mediation.
Yes, you read that correctly – Pennsylvania has court-ordered mediation whereby you’ll be required to engage in custody and financial mediation using a mediator or something called a Family Master.
And while we’re always supportive of couples who mediate, no matter what route they took to get there, there are a number of shortcomings with going the court-ordered mediation route:
For couples with no children or grown children, there are two main issues that need to be resolved in a Pennsylvania divorce. For couples with minor children, there are four:
In Pennsylvania, issues of physical and legal custody must be agreed upon and drafted into the parenting plan.
The parenting plan covers all aspects of how you will co-parent your children once you’re divorced including where the children will spend nights, weekends, and holidays, as well as how you and your ex will engage in decision making on matters such as education, religion, and medical issues to name but a few.
Because there is very little guidance on how to create a balanced and effective parenting plan, the help of an experienced and professional mediator is critical in this very gray area.
To learn more about how parenting plans work and why they’re the most important issue you’ll face in your divorce, please read: Divorce with Kids: The Importance of a Good Parenting Plan.
Here in the United States, all 50 states are required to have some sort of repeatable method for determining child support known as a child support guideline.
How child support is determined varies greatly state-by-state, and each state’s model produces a significantly different result. That’s why you must follow the Pennsylvania child support guidelines and not one from another state.
PA uses something called the “income-shares” model which uses a number of factors to determine a basic child support amount, and allocates a portion of that amount to each parent. It is non-taxable, and the basic child support amount in PA excludes a number of other “extraordinary expenses” such as college, and extracurricular activities, which must be negotiated separately.
Determining child support in Pennsylvania is not as simple as running a calculator and coming up with an amount, as there is a lot left out of the child support guidelines in PA. That’s why it’s important to work with a mediator with a financial background - to ensure your children get the financial support they need and don’t become the economic victims of your divorce.
To learn more about how child support works in Pennsylvania, please read: Think it's Easy to Determine PA Child Support? Guess Again!.
In Pennsylvania, the payment of money from one ex-spouse to another is called alimony. Some states refer to this as maintenance, spousal maintenance or spousal support.
Alimony in PA is different from child support in that it is to be used by the recipient spouse to assist with their expenses and not the children's, it is a taxable event and there is no "PA alimony guideline" by which to determine it. Although oddly enough, there is a guideline to determine spousal support which is defined as monies paid from one spouse to another while the divorce process is unfolding.
But just because there isn’t a guideline or other repeatable way to determine alimony in PA, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. There are a number of ways we help Pennsylvania couples resolve this difficult and emotional issue, and have been doing so with great success for many years.
To learn more about how alimony works in Pennsylvania, please read: Understanding Alimony in PA and The Challenges of Resolving it.
Equitable distribution is the process by which divorcing couples divide their marital assets and liabilities. And is typically the last issue a mediating couple will need to discuss and resolve in their Pennsylvania divorce.
PA is an equitable distribution state. Meaning couples can come to any agreement they find “fair and equitable” when it comes to dividing their marital assets and liabilities. PA is not a community property state where assets and liabilities would be split 50-50.
So how do you determine what's fair when there's little in the way of formulas or rules to guide you?
A good start is to work with an experienced divorce mediator with a financial background as this part of the divorce process can not only prove difficult, but costly, as there are a significant number of mistakes that can be made during this part of the process.
Determining what marital property is, what’s the difference between marital and pre-marital property, and what factors are taken into account when discussing equitable distribution all factor into the negotiations.
To learn more about how equitable distribution works in Pennsylvania, please read: Equitable Distribution in PA.
Whether you work inside the home or outside of it, have minor children, grown children or are child-free, have been married a short time or have been together for many years, mediation is the smartest way to divorce in PA.
To get started, take the next step and book an initial meeting for you and your spouse.
Or if you’re early in the process, learn how you benefit by mediating your PA divorce.