top of page


Q. What is the kitchen table settlement method to finalize my case?

In the Kitchen Table Settlement method, the parties meet with one another (i.e. at a kitchen table), they discuss the terms of their settlement, reach an agreement, and provide those terms to an attorney (or to each of their respective attorneys) to process the paperwork to make it final.  No attorney in Pennsylvania can represent both parties, so if the parties only hire one attorney, that attorney can only represent one of them.  It is often faster and cheaper because attorney involvement is very limited.

Q. Is an attorney involved in Kitchen Table Settlement?

An attorney is not required, but highly suggested.  While the parties can reach the terms of their settlement on their own, the Court will still require that those terms be memorialized/written before granting a Decree in Divorce.  The parties must also file mandatory procedural documents with the Court, and the timing of these documents is important, so it can be difficult to navigate these requirements without an attorney. 

Q. What is the Difference between Mediation and Collaborative?

Mediation is when the parties hire a NEUTRAL mediator to sit with them, and go through he decisions they must make for their divorce.  The Mediation cannot give specific legal advice to either participant.  For example, a Mediator could never look at one party and tell that party the offer is a good deal for him/her/them.  As such, if a party would feel more comfortable having an attorney (your advocate) present at the negotiation table, then the better process may be to have your attorneys attend the Mediation with you, or choose the Collaborative Divorce Process.  With the Collaborative Divorce Process, the set up of the meetings is very similar to Mediation, but you always have your attorney attend the meetings with you.   That way, your attorney can be right next to you in negotiating settlement of your divorce matter, and provide the legal guidance you may need or want.

Q. What decisions do we have to make to finalize our divorce case?

You will need to make decisions similar to what the Court would do if you went through litigation.  The Court views divorce cases as a mathematical equation.  It requires parties to make an inventory of all of their assets and debts (both marital and non-marital), value them, and then determine how they will be distributed.  Sometimes those terms include deadlines or timeframes (i.e. one spouse has 90 days to refinance the mortgage encumbering the home).  You may also need to decide whether or not alimony will occur, including the monthly amount, and the duration. 

Q. Can we both hire the same attorney?

No, not in Pennsylvania.  No attorney can represent both you and your spouse in Pennsylvania because you technically have conflicting interests, even if you are in agreement with all of the terms.  The only time you and your spouse can hire one person to assist with your divorce, is when you hire a mediator, who is considered a neutral, not an advocate, for either of you.


Q. What is Mediation?

The mediation process involves both parties hiring a neutral mediator, who assists the parties in reaching a resolution of their divorce, child custody, support and/or other legal matter outside of court. The Mediator is impartial, and therefore does not represent either party; however, the parties may bring their respective attorneys to the mediation sessions, or participate in the sessions without attorneys. The mediation sessions may be in-person or virtual, and last for a maximum of 2 hours for each session (studies have shown that people hit a wall after negotiating for 2hours, and are no longer productive). Mediation sessions are generally scheduled every 2-3 weeks, but this process allows for more party control, and we can often cater toward the parties’ schedules. The number of sessions depends upon how long it takes the parties to reach resolution on all of their decisions

Q. Who is the mediator and what does the mediator do?

The mediator is a neutral professional (most commonly, an attorney) who does not represent either party.  The mediator meets with the parties, and presents the parties with all of the decisions they need to make to finalize their divorce, custody, or support matter.  The mediator provides hypotheticals and other information to assist the parties with making the decisions.  The mediator is not a tie-breaker, or decision-maker, but rather utilizes tools to assist the parties in making those decisions.  Once the parties reach resolution, the mediator can draft a legal document to memorialize that agreement.

Q. How many joint sessions does it take to finalize my case in mediation?

There is no “average divorce mediation” timeframe, since each family, and therefore each divorce, is unique.   The complexity of your situation, and the amount and intensity of the conflict between spouses will determine the length of your Mediation.   Each joint session has an agenda so each participant knows exactly what will be discussed for each session.  The Mediator can customize the participants Mediation Process, and discuss what needs they have in entering the Mediation Process.

Q. Do you offer flat fees for mediation?

Yes!  Unlike litigation cases, which require hourly billing, BOK Law & Mediation Services offers flat fees for mediating couples.  We also provide a free one-hour consultation to discuss these flat fees.

Q. How do virtual mediations work?

Virtual mediations are very similar to in-person mediations.  You will be scheduled for a free one-hour joint consultation, where your mediator will discuss the process, steps, and fees involved in a mediation.  Your mediator will teach you how to utilize the Zoom platform for your virtual mediation, including how to share financial information.  You will then have the opportunity to each meet separately with your Mediator prior to commencing the joint mediation sessions.  You will attend joint mediation sessions until your reach resolution. 

Q. Are virtual mediations just as good as in-person mediations?

This question is a good one, but the answer is subjective.  Some participants prefer in-person sessions, as they feel that real conversations and real emotion are often addressed in person.  However, the technology of virtual mediations definitely has perks.  With virtual mediation, you usually do not have to take off work for a half day to travel to the mediator’s office.  You can simply schedule yourself for a 2-hour meeting, and mitigate the disruption to your work day.  Virtual mediations often provide more of a comfort to participants because they can participate in the comfort of their own home, which allows them to feel more focused on the issues at hand, rather than being uncomfortable in a more formal setting.   Both settings allow for productive conversations, and the mutual sharing of information and documents.  You can utilize the free one-hour consultation with an attorney to discuss the pros and cons of virtual versus in-person mediation.


Q. My Partner and I are getting a divorce.  How does the Collaborative Process work?

When you choose the Collaborative Process, each of you must hire an attorney who has had specialized training in the Collaborative Process.  Everyone agrees in writing not to proceed through the court.  You will attend out-of-court meetings every 2-3 weeks, for a maximum of 2 hours each time until settlement is reached.  The meetings will include each party, the respective attorneys, and any other chosen neutrals, such as financial neutrals, coaches, child specialists, etc.   Each meeting has a detailed agenda to follow.  The team works together to identify the interests of the parties and the children, gather information, explore settlement options, test consequences of possible settlement, and reach an agreement.

Q. Who is involved in the Collaborative Divorce Process?

A Collaborative Team is the combination of the professionals that you choose to work with to resolve your dispute.  It can include you and just your Collaborative lawyers, or you may want to include other professionals on the team, such as financial neutrals, coaches, child specialists, mortgage lenders, realtors, etc who have also completed specialized Collaborative training.  Your collaborative team will guide and support you as problem-solvers, not as adversaries.

Q. What are the key elements of the Collaborative Divorce Process?

The Collaborative Divorce Process supports a voluntary, free and open exchange of information.  It includes a genuine commitment and pledge to stay out of court.  It emphasizes the needs of the children, and provides tools for co-parenting.  It protects the privacy of the family.  It utilizes a family-centered problem-solving approach.  It prepares individuals for their new lives, by assisting them to understand the new financial and emotional changes to their lives, and connects them with other professionals, as needed.

Q. How many meetings does it take to finalize my case in the Collaborative Divorce Process?

There really is no “average divorce.”  The complexity of your situation, and the amount and intensity of the conflict between spouses will determine the length of your Collaborative Process.  However, the Collaborative Process can often be more direct and efficient than court.  By focusing on problem-solving, instead of blaming, there is a real opportunity to hold respectful and structured conversations to make a plan for separation.  Being present and apart of the meetings so you can hear first-hand what is going on, builds in automatic efficiency and accountability.  Since you are choosing a process that settles your case outside of court, you are also avoiding the court calendar and the significant delays that come with that.  Experience shows that Collaborative cases generally take less time than litigated cases, especially since COVID, and in jurisdictions where there are delays in accessing the court.

Q. Is a settlement reached in the Collaborative Divorce Process as enforceable as if we went to court?

Yes!  Once you reach resolution in the Collaborative Divorce Process, you will sign a Marriage Settlement Agreement, which is a binding, legal, and fully enforceable contract.  While the Marriage Settlement Agreement itself does not have to be filed in court (to protect the family’s privacy), the attorneys file the normal procedural documents with the Court to obtain your Decree in Divorce.

Q. That many professionals in a room?  That sounds expensive, are there any ways to cut costs?

There can be!  Sometimes the team finds it useful to allow the parties to work “offline” with their neutrals to address some issues.  For example, the parties may have a good idea of how they want their parenting or custody arrangement to look, but they need some assistance with the minor details.  They may choose to work directly with a coach outside of the normal Collaborative Process meetings to efficiently settle those issues.  One or both parties may need some extra assistance with formulating a spending plan or budget of their financial needs, and may choose to work offline with a financial neutral to assist with that.  The full team has the ability to work creatively with one another, and find out-of-the-box solutions to meet the needs of each family.


Q. What is litigation?

Litigation is the process where parties attend court appearances and ask a judge, master, and/or hearing officer to make decisions about their lives, on their behalf, when they cannot reach agreement amongst themselves.  In most jurisdictions, this involves multiple court appearances.  In Pennsylvania, you can never go to one court appearance and have a judge decide your divorce, custody, and support matters.  Each matter is handled separately, with separate court appearances.  Additionally, each matter usually involves a multi-step process.  For example, your custody matter usually starts with a form of mediation, or informal court proceeding.  It may then proceed to another informal proceeding but this time in front of a hearing officer or judge.  Only after those proceedings will you be scheduled for a custody trial.  Each county in Pennsylvania has their own set of procedural rules on how divorce, custody and support cases proceed.

Q. Do we each have to hire an attorney for litigation?

You are never required to hire an attorney for litigation, but it is highly suggested.  If you choose to proceed without an attorney (i.e. as a self-represented party), you are expected to know all of the procedural rules, and abide by them, as if you were represented by an attorney.  You do not get an excuse or exception because you didn’t understand your responsibilities under the law.  Since the court process often involves extensive court pleadings, deadlines, potential testimony and evidence, it is very important that you present your case to the court in an organized and cohesive manner.  Attorneys are highly skilled and trained to know exactly how judges like to receive this information.

Q. How long does it take to finalize our divorce through litigation?

There is no “average divorce” timeframe.  However, since you may be facing multiple court appearances, and since there are often delays in the court system, you can expect your divorce case to take as little as several months to even several years. 

Q. How expensive is litigation?

There is no “average” range for divorces, since each family, and therefore each divorce is unique.  We have had cases finalize for less than $2,000 total, and we have had cases that exceed $100,000.  It comes down to how agreeable the parties are, how willing they are to share financial information, and how many court appearances it takes to finalize their case.  While you may have the best intentions to settle your case amicably, you cannot control your spouse’s reaction to any of these items. 

Legal disclaimer: The information provided in these FAQs is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for personal legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Further, legal advice cannot be given without full consideration of all relevant information relating to an individual’s specific situation. No attorney-client relationship is formed, nor should any such relationship be implied.

bottom of page