EP: 008



Though you may not like your ex all that much, your pet doesn’t harbor the same resentment. Yet our companion animals often get caught in the middle and end up being used as bargaining chips in a divorce settlement that doesn’t serve the people or the pets involved. Rather than taking the fight to court, where pets are viewed as property, mediation serves as a more appropriate alternative—an alternative that allows both parties to be a part of a solution-oriented discussion around conflicts over animals.

Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton is a conflict coach, mediator and principal attorney with Hamilton Law & Mediation, a firm that uses alternative dispute resolution to foster peaceful solutions in conflicts over animals. A pioneer in the field, Debra speaks widely on the top of how mediation techniques can help people address conflicts without litigation, and she has been featured in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and US News and World Report, among many other. She is also the author of Nipped in the Bud, Not in the Butt: How to Use Mediation to Resolve Conflicts over Animals.

Today, Debra joins Katherine to discuss the important role companion animals play in our lives and recent court cases involving the ownership of animals. She explains how pets serve as a source of comfort, especially in the aftermath of a difficult separation or divorce. Listen in for insight on how the mediator can help a divorcing couple hear each other ‘for the first time’ and design a custody arrangement that serves the people, the children and the pets involved.


The important role of companion animals in our lives

The judge’s decision in the case of Travis v. Murray

How to recognize that when you’re projecting your feelings on the animal

Why pets are considered property under the law

Why mediators need to ask about pets up front

The benefits of having a companion animal

How to determine what arrangement is in the best interest of the animal

How relationships with pets tend to deepen after a separation or divorce

How pets serve as a source of comfort

The value of mediation in helping parties come to a creative solution

  • Hear other party through reflection of mediator
  • Consider what life looks like without pet

The cottage industries that provide transportation for pets

The danger of considering ‘who the pet loves more’ in decision-making


Hamilton Law & Mediation

Hamilton Law on Twitter

Email dhamilton@hamiltonlawandmediation.com

Call (914) 273-1085


Nipped in the Bud, Not in the Butt: How to Use Mediation to Resolve Conflicts over Animals by Debra Vey Vonda-Hamilton

Travis v. Murray

‘Peacemaking in the Dog Wars’ Blog


The Center for Understanding Conflict

Miller Law Group

Katherine on LinkedIn

The New Yorker’s Guide to Collaborative Divorce by Katherine Miller

Email katherine@westchesterfamilylaw.com

Call (914) 738-7765