There’s an interesting article in the Star Tribune today titled “Pets Become Pawns in Custody Battles” about how when couples divorce they are fighting about custody and caring for their pets. The comparison here is to custody battles over children. Typically we’d be talking about the child’s best interests, but here we are arguably talking about the best interests of the pet. This is an unusual concept to legal professionals because we are taught that animals are property like a car or house or television. But people, especially perhaps those without children, think of their pets as part of the family and cannot imagine thinking of them as merely property to be divided. To me, this is a great issue for mediation because it isn’t treated very helpfully in the law, so if you went to court the court would likely not want to hear the issue and would likely just award the pet to one person. In contrast, in mediation, the parties could figure out a joint ownership arrangement where the connection between owner and pet could be maintained. Here’s a link to the story.