Pennsylvania Divorce Mediation Guide

PA Divorce Mediation.jpg

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 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 coming to agreement on all required issues as well!

Pennsylvania Office Locations & Online Divorce Mediation

PA Divorce Mediation Locations.pngIn PA, we meet with couples in the following locations:

110 North State Street, Newtown, PA 18940 | (215) 526-5069

Bryn Mawr:
26 Summit Grove Ave, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010 | (877) 732-6682

2929 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19104 | (877) 732-6682

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.

book a mediation appointment

In this guide, you'll find information on:

  • How divorce mediation is conducted in PA;
  • The issues that need to be resolved in a Pennsylvania divorce;
  • Divorce mediation resources for Pennsylvania couples;
  • And how to get started mediating your PA divorce with us.

How is Divorce Mediation in PA Conducted?

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.

PA Divorce Mediation.pngIf 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:

  • First, you don’t get to choose your mediator or Family Master like you would with private mediation. So you could end up with a mediator you don’t like, or you’re not comfortable working with.
  • Second, court-ordered mediation in PA can be farmed out to various community groups who perform all kinds of mediation, not just mediation involving family matters. These may be volunteers who don't practice divorce mediation full-time like we do, or have the requisite knowledge or experience to help you come to agreement.
  • Finally, what if your issues are so complex that even if the mediator isn't fresh out of training, they aren’t experienced handling unique issues like yours? In that case, mediation will become a waste of time and now you’ll have to wait months for a court date. When you could have resolved all of your issues in private mediation long before that.

What are The Issues That Need to be Resolved in a PA Divorce?

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:

The Parenting Plan

Parenting Plans PA.pngIn 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.

Child Support

PA Child Support.pngHere 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!.


Alimony PA.pngIn 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

Equitable Distribution PA.pngEquitable 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: Who Gets What in a Divorce?.

Mediate Your Pennsylvania Divorce!

Mediation Smartest Way to Divorce in PA.jpgWhether 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.

Why mediate your NJ divorce with Equitable Mediation?

To get started, take the next step and book an initial meeting for you and your spouse.

book a mediation appointment


Or if you’re early in the process, learn how you benefit by mediating your PA divorce.

book a mediation appointment