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Divorce Mediation vs Attorney: Which Should a Stay at Home Mom Choose?

By Joseph Dillon, Divorce Mediator

As a Stay-At-Home Mom, you run yourself ragged.

Food shopping. Shuttling the kids to their activities. Taking care of the house. Doing homework. Walking the dog...

And now you've just added "get a divorce" to that list.

At first you might have thought to hire an attorney. But that might cause your already reluctant husband to dig in deeper. And fight you on getting the divorce you want and he doesn't.

But now you're thinking why not check out mediation? Seems to make sense. And maybe the fact there's no attorneys involved won't make your husband think he's going to get screwed in the process.

So what are the differences between divorce mediation vs attorney? And how do you know which one is better for you and your kids and will help you get what you're entitled to?

Comparing Divorce Mediation vs Attorneys in 4 Critical Areas:

When getting a divorce, there are four main topics that must be discussed.

They are:

  • The parenting plan and child custody arrangements for co-parenting your children post-divorce
  • The financial (child) support each of you will provide your children
  • The division of your marital assets and liabilities
  • And alimony

Here is a brief overview of divorce mediation vs attorneys in each of the four areas.

Parenting Plan and Child Custody Arrangements

There are no laws on how to be a good parent. And if there were, I'm thinking our jails would be overcrowded with the bad ones.

So why would you leave such a delicate matter as who will raise your children to agents of the law such as attorneys? After all, who knows best for your children?

Attorneys? Judges? The courts?

No. You.

As a stay at home mom, mediation allows you and your husband to have the realistic conversations necessary to come up with a parenting plan that works in the real world. He can yell all he wants about you going back to work. Or having the kids stay with him 50% of the time.

But if you've got 2 or 3 young kids, or he travels all the time for work, it might not be realistic. And you need to discuss that instead of letting an attorney or judge decide for you.

Financial Support of Your Children

Federal law mandates that each state have child support guidelines that calculate an amount one or both parties must contribute to the financial well-being of their children.

So when working with attorneys, all they do is take out their software program, calculate the amount and that's that. But what if it's not enough? Who's going to listen to you when you tell them dance classes are $400 a month? Or that you just spent $2,000 on back to school shopping?

Formulas don't care. But mediators do.

In mediation, you and your husband sit down as parents not litigants and discuss exactly what your children need to be financially supported.

You know exactly what it costs to raise your kids because you're the one doing the clothes shopping, writing the checks to the school and paying for the dance and karate lessons. I'll bet your husband doesn't believe you when you tell him how much all of this costs.

To help you come to a realistic amount of child support, we'll:

  • Work with you to prepare a budget outlining the children's ordinary expenses such as food and clothing;
  • Create a list of their extraordinary expenses such as daycare, music lessons, camps and all the other fun stuff that pops up from time to time and they're involved in;
  • Discuss who will pay for what, what activities are realistic to continue and which ones may need to be curtailed; and
  • Develop a series of flexible child support arrangements that will change over time as your children get older. And more expensive to raise.

You are 70% more likely to develop and agree to a child support amount that will stand the test of time using mediation instead of using attorneys to fight it out in court.**

Mediation puts kids first when it comes to finances.

Dividing Your Property

There's a common misconception that everything you own must be divided 50-50.

And while that's true in a handful of "community property" states (7 at last count) in the other 43 states that use the principle of "equitable distribution," you and your husband are free to decide what the division of your assets and liabilities look like. Even if it doesn't fit a traditional cookie-cutter mold.

  • Want to keep the house until the kids graduate high school? Even though right now they're only 6 and 8
  • Want to make sure you get what you're entitled to of your husband's pension?
  • Need to understand how your family investments work and what to do with them once you receive your fair share?
  • Need help finding a job after your divorce is final?
  • Need help getting a mortgage or finding a new place to live?

One of the biggest differences between divorce mediation vs attorneys is that mediators focus on both the legal and extra-legal issues that all a part of every day life.

As mediators, we do our best to work with you to care for the legal, financial, emotional and tactical issues that come with divorce. Even if they're not a matter of law.


If your husband is already reluctant to divorce, alimony is probably why.

And for good reason.

Unlike child support, there are no formulas to calculate alimony. It is a wide open subject in which two opposing attorneys could run for miles. Arguing over what's fair, making proposals based in fantasy and depleting your bank accounts with mounting legal bills.

Pretty soon there won't be anything left to pay alimony!

Mediation on the other is reality based.

We know that even if you wanted to, you're not going to get a job right away. We know that you've been out of the workforce and despite what some employability expert an attorney may hire, finding a good paying job these days is difficult. Even for someone with uninterrupted work experience.

We use a budget-based approach which outlines in detail the exact amount you need to live post-divorce and work with you both to come to an agreement that let's each of you carry on your lives separate, but equal. One of you will not "win" at the expense of the other. Whatever win means in divorce...

We're not saying it's going to be easy. But using divorce mediation vs an attorney you'll go forward with the knowledge that what you received and your husband paid in alimony is fair.

Making the idea of divorce easier for your husband to accept.

**source: 2008 New Jersey family court performance - mediation vs. attorney-driven divorce (litigation)


Equitable Mediation specializes in helping divorcing couples negotiate a fair settlement and divorce peacefully and cost-effectively – without lawyers.

For more than 20 years, Equitable Mediation Founder and Divorce Mediator Joe Dillon has been helping individuals, couples and corporations mediate a myriad of complex legal and financial issues by utilizing his expertise in law, finance and negotiation.

For more than 20 years, Co-Founder, Divorce Coach and Co-mediator Cheryl Dillon has been employing her background in psychology, human resources and life coaching to help individuals overcome obstacles to achieve their goals and reach their fullest potential.

Joe and Cheryl are passionate about helping couples avoid the destruction of attorney-driven litigation and know first-hand that the right information, combined with the right expertise and the right kind of support can make the challenging process of divorce less expensive, less time-consuming and less stressful for divorcing couples and their children.

Equitable Mediation serves clients in New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York and California.

Joe and Cheryl can be contacted by phone at: (877) 732-6682 Visit Web Site Visit Blog

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