There’s no doubt that divorce (or separation) is one of the most difficult and stressful events you’ll ever experience in your life.
It isn't only emotionally painful, but handled incorrectly, the actual divorce process itself can be adversarial and financially ruinous to you, your soon-to-be ex-spouse, and your children.
Since 2008, we’ve been helping couples avoid the devastation of attorney-driven divorce proceedings through the use of divorce mediation, a more peaceful option.
If you’re starting to plan for a divorce in PA, you’re smart to learn about mediation. And we’ve got you covered!
On this page, you'll find answers to frequently asked questions about divorce mediation in PA.
And if you already know you want to mediate your divorce, and you and/or your spouse live on the Main Line, Bucks County or anywhere else in The Keystone State, book an initial meeting to learn more about our expert online divorce mediation services.Book an Initial Meeting
If we had to get lawyers involved, I know our divorce would have taken much longer and been much more expensive.
Joe and Cheryl helped us keep the cost of divorce from spiraling out of control and at the same time, provided a quality service and detailed agreement that covered all the bases.former client, Langhorne, PA
During our divorce, I was in the process of getting a new job and wasn't sure what my compensation package would look like. Joe helped us reach an agreement that took that variability into account so we wouldn't have to delay our divorce.
That was a huge relief as we were both anxious to move forward.former client, Wayne, PA
I thought Joe and Cheryl were extremely helpful. They're honest and truly had everyone's best interest at heart.
Divorce is a horrible process, but the fact that they made it easier was huge!former client, Rittenhouse Square
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.
During the mediation process, your mediator, (Joe), would help you identify, discuss, negotiate and resolve all of the issues surrounding your divorce privately, confidentially and without the use of attorneys, if you so choose. Joe would then draft your agreement and a host of supporting documents.
Once the mediation process is completed, 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 child 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 a divorcing couple 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 a professional and experienced 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.
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, 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.
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.
To learn more about how equitable distribution works in Pennsylvania, please read: Equitable Distribution in PA.
Lawyers aren't required for a divorce.
Some individuals choose to speak with a divorce lawyer during or after mediation to obtain legal advice. But others specifically choose to NOT involve attorneys in their divorce or separation.
This is your divorce, so if you want to get a lawyer's perspective on a particular topic(s), you are encouraged to do so.
No! It isn't necessary or required for you and your spouse to have everything decided before you start divorce mediation.
In fact, many divorcing couples specifically wait for their chosen mediator to help them discuss and resolve the issues.
This way, you can ensure everything is covered thoroughly - in an appropriate order and given the time and attention required.
We cannot speak for all divorce mediators, but for us the answer is absolutely!
There's no case too complicated to be handled by our expert mediator.
Given our experience helping couples divorcing after 20 years of marriage, high asset cases, grey divorce cases, business owner divorces, and cases involving complicated compensation issues, most cases we handle involve a high level of situational complexities.
There are a great deal of differences between the two divorce methods ranging from the number of professionals involved, approach, cost, speed, and more!
This article covers in more detail a comparison of divorce mediation vs lawyers.
And this article covers the differences between mediation vs collaborative divorce (also referred to as collaborative law process), and the benefits we believe mediation provides.
Divorce mediation is a viable option if:
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, divorce mediation with Equitable Mediation is the smartest way to divorce in PA.
Or if you’re early in the process, learn how you benefit by mediating your PA divorce.
If you live anywhere in the state of Pennsylvania, you can mediate your no-fault divorce case with us using our innovative and convenient online divorce mediation format.
And have successfully helped couples living in numerous Pennsylvania cities and counties including: