Mediation and Divorce

Family and divorce mediation is a process in which a mediator, an impartial third party, helps solve family disputes by encouraging the participants’ voluntary agreement. The family mediator assists communication, encourages understanding and focuses the participants on their individual and common interests. The family mediator works with the participants to explore options, make decisions and reach their own agreement.  At Family Resolutions, your attorney-mediator uses her family litigation experience as a source of information and backdrop for the analysis of your specific issues and challenges facing your family in this difficult landscape.

Family mediation is not a substitute for the need for family members to obtain independent legal advice or counseling or therapy. Nor is it appropriate for all families. However, family mediation is a valuable option for many families because it can:

  • increase the self-determination of participants and their ability to communicate
  • promote the best interests of children
  • reduce the economic and emotional costs associated with the resolution of family disputes

Effective mediation requires that the family mediator be:

  • qualified by training, experience and temperament and possess inter-personal skills
  • impartial and able to assist the participants in reaching their decisions voluntarily
  • able to secure pertinent information from the participants so that they can make informed decisions
  • aware of the impact of culture and diversity
  • aware of the developmental stages of children and take into account the best interests of children
  • able to identify families whose history includes domestic abuse
  • available when needed

Family cases are especially well suited for mediation because the issues are particularly personal and emotional. The fact that mediation gives people the opportunity to be heard and to listen to the perspective of the other party

Mediation vs. Litigation

Mediation v. Litigation: Which is right for you?

Mediation Litigation
Confidential process protects privacy Private matters heard in the public domain of a courtroom and made public record.
Affordable allowing you to keep your wealth. Typically 1/3 or less of the cost of litigation. Expensive attorney’s fees for litigation typically three times or more of the cost of mediation.
More timely process and flexible scheduling. Long waits for court dates and the court determines the schedule.
Amicable process with mutually acceptable agreements taking into consideration your rights and your needs. Adversarial process with uncertain outcomes that only consider your rights.
Outcome controlled by the participants who create more comprehensive and customized Agreements. Judge decides and may not take into account your specific needs.

Process of Mediation

A 5-Step Plan for Successful Mediation

  1. Get Ready to Mediate

Initial Consultation

  • Disclose marital assets and debts.
  • Learn about our mediation process and PA Divorce Law.
  • Assess readiness to mediate.
  • Discuss a plan for resolution and address concerns.


  • Gather financial documents.
  • Create budgets for separate households.
  • Establish a healthy mindset for mediation.
  1. Work Out Your Terms

Parenting Mediation and Coaching

  • Resolve all issues relating to your children’s care, including physical and legal custody.
  • Draft healthy parenting plan for two households.

Financial Mediation, Education and Legal Guidance

  • Divide marital property equitably.
  • Resolve alimony and child support obligations.
  • Assess health/life insurance coverage, tax, college planning and estate matters.
  • Ensure financial needs are aligned with realistic goals and priorities, now and in the future.
  1. Finalize Your Agreement

Marital Settlement Agreement

  • Review and make changes to agreement draft, including parenting plan (if applicable)
  • Finalize and sign agreement.

Independent Attorney Review (recommended)

  • Have your agreement reviewed by a mediation-friendly attorney.
  1. File for Divorce Decree

(can be part of Step 1 in some cases)

Filing Process

  • Submit court forms
  • Mandatory 90-day wait period, which can be waived if you agree to all terms and are granted permission by the court.
  • Receive divorce decree
  1. Plan Your Future

Let us help Connect you to other professionals so that you can complete your transition.

  • Co-Parenting Counseling
  • Career Transition
  • Life Coaching
  • Financial Planning/Credit Repair
  • Estate Planning

Kitchen Table Divorce

Many divorcing couples are able to figure out the general framework of their agreement but want help filling in the details and “making it legal.” If this sounds familiar, the Kitchen Table approach to divorce mediation might be what you are looking for. This approach provides a way to obtain a low cost, amicable divorce.

In Kitchen Table divorce mediation the clients inform the attorney-mediator of the structure of their agreement. The attorney-mediator will help the clients with the last issue or two, and then help them consider the details or smaller issues they may not have thought about (who claims the children for tax purposes, how should payments be characterized, etc.).  The attorney-mediator will draft all necessary paperwork and send it to the clients for review.

Most Kitchen Table mediations take only one meeting. There may be another follow up meeting if necessary, though usually any follow up issues are addressed via email.

Kate Gillespie Atkinson, as an attorney-mediator, can conduct these sessions, but because she is also a divorce attorney, she is able to prepare the necessary documents for your case rather than referring you to another attorney to write up the documents.


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