Cheswick Divorce Services logo Contact Information. Donna Cheswick. 724-493-9695.


What is mediation

  • How is mediation different than litigation

    Litigation is based on a win-lose strategy. Each attorney is being paid to “win” the best possible settlement. This can cause the process to drag on and often results in confrontation, anger and hostility. Mediation focuses on a win-win strategy to help both spouses communicate and devise solutions to their differences so that they can reach an agreement.
  • How long will mediation take

    The number of meetings depends on the complexity of your situation, how far apart you are on issues and how ready both parties are to make decisions. Usually a standard mediation case requires between two to five meetings. Each meeting is usually scheduled in 2-hour time slots. The pace of mediation is designed to give you the time to deal with each issue in a thoughtful and manageable way.
  • How much does it cost

    Our fee is $200 per hour and a 3-hour retainer will be required prior to the first scheduled session. The hourly fee can be split between both parties. You may find that mediation can cost a fraction of what it would cost to engage in a long, drawn out legal battle.
  • Where does mediation take place

    In-Person Sessions can be scheduled in our office in a relaxed and private meeting space with both parties present. We can also offer offsite mediation in certain circumstances. There also may be times where we meet privately with each party to relieve tension and discuss any sensitive issue that may be preventing progress. These “caucuses” allow you to share emotional details of your personal situation without worrying about your spouse’s reaction.
    Virtual Sessions can be scheduled via video conference using your computer, tablet or smart phone. Parties are able to be together without the emotional tension of being in the same room. This method eliminates travel time/costs, is more flexible, allows screen-sharing for joint review of documents/information and can accommodate divorcing couples when one party may be living out of state.
  • Will mediation work if we can’t communicate

    Yes, mediators are trained to help you shift into new and productive ways of communicating, problem solving and compromise. You will be encouraged to avoid former patterns or dwelling on what went wrong in the past. Instead you will be encouraged to focus on what you want in the future - - for you and your family. Often times, mediation helps you learn better communication skills so both parties can communicate post-divorce, especially when you have children. If, at any point, mediation does not seem right for you, you may leave the process.
  • What are our chances of success

    According to, typically two thirds of mediated divorce cases reach resolution on most or all of the outstanding issues. Also, studies show that agreements made during mediation are far more likely to be followed after the divorce than those “forced” upon the parties through litigation.
  • What issues are discussed in mediation

    The issues that are typically discussed include: property distribution, parenting arrangements, child support, debt allocation, alimony and tax considerations. In addition, any other issue that is important to either of you will be discussed. Mediation is structured to allow you to consider each issue individually, building your agreement as you progress.
  • Do I still need an attorney

    Because mediators cannot provide legal or tax advice, both parties are encouraged to consult with an attorney for legal advice or your tax preparer for tax advice that may be necessary during the process. This will help you create a proposal based on realistic settlement expectations and to insure that you understand what legal/tax concerns may come into play based on your decisions on settling important issues.
  • What happens when we reach an agreement

    At the conclusion of the mediation process, a “Memorandum of Understanding” will be drafted and given to both parties. This written document will summarize all the decisions you mutually agreed on during your mediation sessions. This is NOT a legally binding document and both parties should have this reviewed by their attorneys. The attorney will then use the Memorandum of Understanding to draft your final property settlement agreement.

Why use a CDFA

  • What is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst

    A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst is trained through the Institute of Divorce Financial Analysts. These professionals specialize in financially equitable divorce settlements to help increase your chances of arriving at a settlement that fully addresses your long-term financial needs -- and your spouses too.
  • What does a CDFA® do

    A CDFA® gathers data, including information regarding assets, liabilities, and historical budgets. They help determine the short-term and long-term financial impact of a proposed divorce settlement using powerful proprietary software. They can offer valuable insight into the pros and cons of different settlement proposals. They create personalized reports and graphs illustrating the financial status, cash flow, and net worth of both parties. They also provide education regarding the tax implications of splitting various assets, investments, pension plans, and insurance issues.
  • Do I still need an attorney

    Yes, family law attorneys are trained to advise on all of the legal ramifications of divorce, however they are not trained as financial experts. It is not fair or reasonable to expect that they will also have the depth of knowledge in taxes, pension distributions, insurance issues, or financial planning which will assure that all of your concerns about how you will be able to live post divorce are addressed appropriately. A CDFA® assists your attorney but does not replace your attorney.
  • Do you work with me alone or with me and my spouse

    We work on either basis depending on the circumstances. In an adversarial situation we work with the spouse who hired us. If divorcing spouses are amicable we believe you can save both time and money by working with both parties.
  • Will it cost more to hire a CDFA® as well as an attorney

    Yes it could, but not as much as you might think. A CDFA® generally charges less than an attorney and the amount of professional time spent analyzing your finances is usually faster and more efficient which can end up saving money in the long run.
  • How do I know if I need to use a CDFA®

    If you have any of the following questions a CDFA® can help provide answers and reduce uncertainty:
    • Can I afford to keep the marital residence?
    • How do I know which assets are best for me to retain?
    • Where do I start with managing family finances?
    • How can I be sure my settlement is fair an equitable?
    • What are my options for health insurance?
    • What kind of support can I expect?
    • What is a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) and why do I need one?
    • How are retirement assets divided?