This Sunday morning started like most Sunday mornings in our house, early morning coffee, a walk with our dogs and church. We were home in time for CBS Sunday Morning. Today, a topic on Sunday Morning, covered by correspondent Mo Rocca, caught my attention. The topic was Divorce and the Animals they affect.
It was amazing to see a discussion about what I do and why I do it. The program addressed the emotional discussions around pets in divorce. It recognized that Courts define these beloved pets as property. Any support discussion or custody agreement between the parties is outside the purview of a court of law. Litigation attorneys who are positional negotiate these agreements. They represent their client’s interests and not the interests of the animal. Yet these animals, innocent bystanders in a conflict between people, are an important element of any divorce settlement. To these people, their animals are family. Getting the most for your client may not be in the best interest of your client or their pet.
I started HLM, the trailblazer in animal conflict resolution, to address these situations. We have meaningful discussions between parties, not their attorneys. Attorneys are welcome, yet this conversation is best had between the parties, who know what they and their pets want and need.
Unfortunately, this informational segment did not discuss the availability of alternative dispute resolution as a way of finding a solution in these disputes. Mediation and Collaborative Practice take into account the best interest of the animal and the parties in a way a court cannot. Litigation is always available. If the parties start with mediation or collaborative practice they have the ability to forge a more personal resolution to the conflict in less time, at a lower cost, while preserving their relationship.
A mediator is a neutral party who listens and values each party’s position. Once heard and understood, a party is often more amenable to a discussion on solutions which would not have been available without the respectful hearing of their position. In collaborative practice the counsels, who represent each party, agree not to take the case to litigation. They have a stake in the solution process and work tirelessly alongside the parties to understand, respect and forge a lasting agreement.
It was wonderful to see this timely subject matter addressed as current and real. I value opportunities where I can have a dialogue about the manner in which animal conflicts are resolved. Everyone needs to know litigation or negotiation is not the only alternative. Now you can be in the driver’s seat, have the discussion you want to have and work out the best solution for you and your pet. Isn’t this the way you want to forge a solution involving your beloved pet? Now you know, it is available to you. Speak up, ask for a mediator or a collaborative professional and be involved in the decision-making and discussion.