Tips on Finding a Divorce Mediator

Divorce mediators are professionals that help families resolve conflict and can help you navigate the divorce or custody process peacefully. Using a mediator is a great alternative to litigation, and can help you resolve your legal issues without going to court. There are a few ways to find a mediator to help you with your separation, divorce or custody issues.

When searching for a mediator, start by asking your family and friends for a referral. A good recommendation from someone you trust is a great way to find a mediator.  Ask how the process worked for them and about the mediator’s style and fees.

An attorney or other professional may be able to guide you in the right direction. For example, an attorney, accountant, financial planner or real estate agent may recommend a mediator that he or she has worked with in the past and trusts to help their clients to move forward with the process.

Using mediator referral websites such as the Academy of Professional Family Mediators,,, or the Pennsylvania Council of Mediators are also wonderful resources to help you find a professional mediator in your area.

Mediation should be easy and affordable, look for professionals that offer flat fees or unbundled fees and always ask for an estimate up front, so that there are no expensive surprises for you and your family.  Ask for a consultation so that you both have an opportunity to meet your mediator and get information about his or her mediation process and how long it typically takes to mediate situations similar to yours.

Finding an experienced, professional mediator can help you and your family move forward in a peaceful, affordable, amicable manner and with respect. If you would like more information about whether a healthy divorce or custody mediation would be right for you, please contact me at:

Tips on Finding a Divorce Mediator

Divorce Budget Worksheet

Why use a budget worksheet?

Plan your future

Most divorcing couples are surprised to hear that their expenses may significantly increase after separation (27%-50%). To put this in perspective, consider that after separation, each of your incomes may remain the same, however, instead of one shared electric bill you each will have your own separate bill, your car insurance premiums and health insurance premiums may increase, or perhaps you may lose the multi-phone discounts on your cell phone bill.  Having a clear plan of action that includes making sure you can afford to live separately from your spouse is essential.

Prepare a budget

One of the most useful ways to help plan for your future is to prepare a Budget Worksheet.  Utilizing a budget worksheet or spreadsheet can help you estimate and prepare for your expenses after separation. Most folks think budgeting is cumbersome or bothersome, but taking the time to calculate how much it will cost to move out on your own or to pay the mortgage and auto loan yourself can be one of the most important steps you take during this process. Budgeting is a necessary tool that can help you make better financial decisions for you and your family moving forward.

Make your own decisions

Your divorce mediator may ask you to prepare and share your budget worksheets and financial information with your spouse.  Sharing this information and becoming aware of the financial picture of each other, can help you make better financial decisions for you and your family. After preparing your worksheets, decide if you can afford to keep the cars and the family home, or if child support is to be calculated, how much should it be? I have found that most clients find this information empowering, and it helps them take control of their own lives moving forward.

empower yourself

Gathering the information you need to organize your life and your finances can empower you to make the best decisions for your future. To get started, click this link for a copy of a divorce budget worksheet with formulas: Budget Worksheet   If you or your partner would like more information on mediating your divorce, separation, child custody or support issues in an amicable, efficient and affordable manner, please contact Dawn Clement at to schedule a consultation.

Dawn Clement

Mediator & Attorney


Divorce Budget Worksheet

Parenting Agreement Checklist

Choosing to mediate your custody or child support issues is an amicable, affordable and confidential way to resolve your legal issues and keep your family out of court!

When mediating your parenting agreement you may want to consider the following:

Parenting Agreement Checklist

Child support
Child care expenses
Healthcare fees and insurance
School Fees
Sport or activity fees
Extracurricular activities
Religious education and ceremonies
Parenting schedule, decisions and information
School district
Discipline and rules
Illness and injury
School schedules and events
Summer school break
Holidays and special days:

  • Christmas
  • Thanksgiving
  • Easter
  • Halloween
  • Mother’s Day/Father’s Day
  • Birthdays
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Memorial Day
  • School Breaks
  • Family Reunions and other traditions
  • Vacations

A qualified, trained and neutral family mediator can guide you through the parenting plan process! If you would like to learn more about mediating your divorce or custody issues in Pennsylvania, email Dawn Clement at to schedule a consultation!

Parenting Agreement Checklist

5 Obstacles to an Effective Divorce Mediation

Generally, mediation works best when both parties are ready to divorce and move forward. Mediation is not appropriate in every situation and a good mediator will not take your case if he or she believes that your situation will worsen or not have a successful outcome.

Here are a few obstacles to an effective divorce mediation:

  1. Mental illness or drug/alcohol abuse: Mediators have a duty to screen folks that are unable to make decisions for themselves, including mental health issues or drug or alcohol abuse.
  2. Not in “Same Place”:  Meaning one spouse wants a divorce but the other spouse is not ready or would like to work on the marriage. A mediator may refer you to another professional such as a divorce coach or counselor to help you decide whether it is time to move on before mediating.
  3. Power imbalance: When there is a severe power imbalance, domestic abuse or threat of domestic abuse, (including PFA). Even if there is no physical danger involved, the threat of psychological danger would cause difficulties for one of the parties involved to reach a fair agreement. A mediator will refer you to an attorney or other professional to guide you through this process.
  4. High conflict personality:  Divorce mediation may not work if there is a “high conflict personality” involved.  Whatever the reason (could be physiological), the person just can’t seem to mediate or come to an agreement. Studies show that some of these cases can be mediated but they typically take three times as long as a typical case. Your mediator may refer you to an attorney, divorce coach or counselor that can better facilitate the process.
  5. Unwillingness to compromise: Mediation is a compromise, each party must negotiate and compromise a “fair” agreement. Even the best mediator cannot obtain a compromise from a party that is not willing to do so.

If you would like to learn more about mediating your divorce or custody issues, email Dawn Clement  at for a consultation.


5 Obstacles to an Effective Divorce Mediation

How To Save Money On Your Divorce

Divorce can be difficult and financial worries often burden already overwhelmed families.  Often folks ask how to save money  and keep afloat financially during the process.  This can be difficult at times, especially if one spouse moves out, the household expenses will typically increase, not decrease.  During divorce mediation, we have a conversation about income and expenses and how to divorce with financial peace. Here are a few helpful tips we discuss to save money on your divorce:

Stay out of court!

The cheapest way to divorce is to avoid the court room!  Litigating your divorce in court can possibly end in bankruptcy or financial ruin for both you and your spouse. Consider using a qualified mediator to empower you to make decisions for you and your family.  Mediation fees are typically much less expensive compared to litigation fees during the divorce or custody process. Your chances of a quick, inexpensive and amicable divorce significantly increase by simply staying out of the court room.

Ask for an estimate

At the initial divorce consultation, ask for an estimate of the fees and whether you will need to pay a large retainer upfront.  A retainer is a lump sum, advance payment to your attorney to begin your case, and can be in the $2000 – $5000 or more range.  If cash flow is an issue, consider asking whether your attorney offers “unbundled” legal services. Unbundling may help your cash flow because you only pay for the services you actually use or need, essentially you will pay for your services as you go. As a mediator, I find that unbundling my services helps families move forward without the financial stress of large upfront payments.

Know your finances

Gather and organize your financial statements and prepare a budget worksheet on your own. By becoming better aware of your financial situation, rather than asking your lawyer to prepare these documents for you, will save you precious time and money. If you are using a mediator, making copies and sharing these documents with your spouse ahead of time will also help save you time and money during the process.

Hire your own professionals

You and your spouse may need to hire other professionals such as accountants, certified divorce financial planners, appraisers, real estate agents and therapists. Using professionals to assist in business valuations, valuing personal assets, investments, retirement accounts, homes, and taxes can be helpful but are not always necessary during a divorce. Agreeing on whether to hire these experts with your spouse and agreeing to share in these expenses can save your family time and money.

Be organized

When preparing for a mediation or meeting, organizing your thoughts will save you time and money.  Write a list of your questions and the important matters that you wish to discuss. Staying focused and prepared will help you make decisions and find solutions efficiently. Gather and organize your paperwork and documents in a special folder, and make the necessary copies, so that you are prepared to provide the information when asked in a timely manner.


You and your spouse have previously had to communicate during your marriage and make important decisions.   During the divorce process it can be helpful to continue to talk to your spouse about the big decisions for your family. When divorcing you will need to make decisions about your children and pets and how to divide your assets and debts. Try to find common ground and discuss the most effective way to distribute the cars, homes, pets and bank accounts. This may seem like common sense, but the more you and your spouse talk and communicate with each other directly instead of through lawyers the less expensive your divorce will be!

If you would like more information about a healthy divorce, contact Dawn Clement at for more information or to set up a consultation.

Dawn Clement
Attorney & Mediator


How To Save Money On Your Divorce