Divorce Mediation in Pennsylvania: FAQs
While you might think that getting divorced will mean a bitter, protracted court battle, your likelihood of having to take your case to trial is small. An estimated 95% of divorce cases are settled outside of court through negotiations or alternative dispute resolution procedures such as mediation. Here are some frequently asked questions about divorce mediation to pose to an experienced Pennsylvania divorce lawyer.
1. What Is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process that occurs outside of court. If you attend mediation, you and your spouse will each meet with a mediator. The mediator is a trained, neutral party who is skilled in helping people in conflict resolve their issues and reach an agreement.
2. What Happens if You Reach a Mediated Agreement?
If you reach an agreement in mediation, it will be memorialized in a legal document that you and your spouse can review and submit to the court. If you reach a full settlement agreement, its terms will be incorporated by the court as the orders included in your divorce decree. If you reach a partial agreement, those issues can be settled, and you can continue to negotiate or litigate the remaining issues.
3. What Happens if You Don’t Reach an Agreement in Mediation?
If you and your spouse can’t reach an agreement through divorce mediation, your case will proceed to trial. At a divorce trial, both of you can call witnesses and present evidence, and the judge will make a final decision for you.
4. What Types of Issues Can Be Addressed in Divorce Mediation?
In divorce mediation, you can try to reach an agreement on all of the outstanding issues in your case, including the following:
- Child custody and parenting time
- Property division
- Responsibility for debts
- What to do with the marital home
- Spousal support
- How pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s, and other accounts will be divided
5. Is Mediation Required in Pennsylvania Divorce Cases?
Attending divorce mediation is a voluntary decision agreed to by both spouses to try to reach a negotiated settlement agreement. If your spouse doesn’t agree to try mediation, you might try pointing out how expensive the alternative could be for both of you. Litigating a divorce to trial could take months or even years, and litigation costs can quickly add up.
6. What Are the Advantages of Divorce Mediation vs. Trial?
Mediation offers the following advantages compared to going to a divorce trial:
- Faster way to get divorced
- Much less costly than litigating a case through trial
- Might be happier with the outcome than letting a judge make the decisions
- Reduces conflict
- More flexible than litigation
If you can reach an agreement in mediation, it can greatly shorten the time it takes to get divorced. In some cases, couples choose to attend mediation before filing for divorce and then pursue an uncontested case. Depending on the court’s schedule, an uncontested divorce could take from three to six months.
7. When is Mediation Inappropriate?
While mediation is a good choice for many divorcing couples, there are some situations in which going to mediation might not be in your interest. Mediation might not be the best way to resolve your divorce in the following situations:
- Your spouse is hiding assets.
- You are the victim of domestic violence.
- Your spouse has serious drug abuse issues that endanger your children.
- There is a significant power imbalance between your spouse and you.
If any of these situations apply to your case, it might be best to litigate your case through trial with the help of a dedicated divorce attorney.
Consult a Divorce Lawyer
If you are interested in divorce mediation as a possible way to resolve your case, you should reach out to an experienced Pennsylvania divorce lawyer in Jenkintown at the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner. Schedule a confidential consultation by calling 215-886-1266 or filling out our online contact form.