If you are like most other Atlanta pet owners, you probably consider your dog, cat, bird or other animal to be a member of the family. But under the family laws of most states, pets are considered to be mere personal property, like a piece of furniture or jewelry. Because of that property status, many family court judges refuse to deal with a dispute over a pet, issuing an order based solely on the relevant property laws.

But for people who love and cherish their pets as if they were family, that isn't a sufficient method of determining the custody of their pet after a divorce or legal separation. As a result, it has become increasingly common for divorcing couples to hire a pet mediator to help them work through their pet issues and arrive at a resolution that is good for both spouses and their furry friends, too.

During pet mediation sessions, the mediator will facilitate discussions between the couple over how to share custody of the pet and related issues such as medical treatment, training, boarding, feeding and treating the animal. Like any other mediation session, the couple will come up with their own solution to the problem, with the mediator's guidance.

Pet mediators don't only handle divorce disputes, but can be helpful in any situation revolving around an animal. For example, someone who is fed up with her neighbor's barking dog could hire a mediator to resolve the issue.

Generally, pet mediators charge around $250 an hour, which is usually split by both parties to the dispute.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "A Dog's Bark Is Better Than Litigation's Bite," Veronica Dagher, April 30, 2012