Helping Clients Find Solutions to Even the Most Difficult Problems


Notes from the Desk

Who Gets to Keep the Dog? Pet Custody After a Breakup

Remember that scene in Legally Blonde when Elle Woods helps her friend get her dog back from her ex? The sad truth is that many former couples are fighting it out over pet custody every day. The law provides clear guidance for child custody when a couple splits up, but what about the pets?

In our society, people consider their pets to be members of the family. Facebook postings of “Fur Babies” are almost as common as postings of human babies. Unfortunately the law doesn’t recognize the importance pets play in our lives. The courts generally assign value on the pet as it would on any material possession - replacement cost. How much would it cost to acquire another animal of the same breed at a shelter or from a breeder?

So just how does the issue of pet custody get decided after a couple breaks up? The legal system is very limited in the scope of what can be considered. Who purchased the pet? Who paid for the care? Who performed the daily care? Additionally, the cost of going to court can be prohibitively high considering the expense of hiring lawyers and paying court fees. An effective alternative to court is mediation.

In mediation, the parties have an opportunity to sit with a trained mediator who serves as a neutral third party. The mediator facilitates conversation and helps guide the parties to a solution that works for them. Creative solutions, beyond the scope of what the court can consider, are often achieved. In mediation, shared custody and even pet support agreements can be crafted - results the court system would not be able to produce..

If you need help with pet custody issues, please call for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. We would love to have the opportunity to help you and your pets.

Kimberly Barahona

Barahona Consulting & Mediation


Kimberly Barahona
Why Did the Court Order Me to Attend Mediation?

Mediation is a form of ADR - Alternative Dispute Resolution. Court-ordered mediation is increasingly common prior to a case being heard by a judge. This is true for many reasons, including the fact that mediation allows parties to be flexible in working out a solution that works best for them. Judges have little chance to be flexible - the law is the law.

Consider the following scenario: a young mother, who routinely has trouble making ends meet, is offered a promotion and a raise if she can work weekends. As a single parent, that would be impossible according to the Standard Possession Order set by the state. However, in mediation, she and the child’s father could negotiate and modify their previous agreement to adapt to the new situation. The judge could then quickly approve the agreement they reach in mediation. In this example of court-ordered mediation, everyone wins. The parents are empowered to make their own decisions and the court doesn’t lose time on a trial to decide the issue for them.

If you are involved in a legal dispute, whether civil, divorce, or other family matter, chances are that the judge will send you to court-ordered mediation before ruling on the case. Remember, if you do attend a mediation, no one can force you to reach an agreement. Mediation simply provides an opportunity for the parties to participate in a facilitated conversation and attempt to find a solution to the issue at hand. Court ordered mediation doesn’t work out? No worries - the judge will still be there and will be more than willing to hear your case.

Are you being required to attend a court-ordered mediation? Contact Kimberly Barahona at Barahona Consulting & Mediation to schedule your civil, divorce, or family mediation today. No obligation, no cost initial consultation.



Phone: 832-439-3581

Kimberly Barahona
Adult Children Living at Home?

Adult children living with their parents is occurring at unprecedented rates. In some cases the adult children are just late in leaving the nest while others return home after a loss of job or after a divorce. Regardless of the reason, living with adult children can potentially lead to conflict. Be proactive and formulate a plan before conflict develops, or at least before it gets worse.

Many cultures routinely practice multi-generational living. They learn from an early age how to divide responsibilities, respect privacy, and transition from one role to another. In the United States, that has not been the experience for most of us. Therefore, it’s difficult for many of us to adapt to this new reality.

The potential problems are many when an adult child lives at home. Often, views on morality and appropriate or acceptable behavior vary between generations. Parents may expect young adults returning home to observe the same rules as before going off to college. The adult child my try to assert his/her adulthood by rejecting any notion of rules or curfews. Another minefield is household responsibilities, both physical and financial. The parents may assume that the adult child will pitch in out of gratitude and the adult child may assume the parents would say something if they want more help. Either way, it is easy to recognize that misunderstandings can escalate into frustration and conflict very quickly.

Most experts recommend creating a thorough agreement when an adult child returns home or when a child at home becomes an adult. Talking through the issues and writing out an agreement helps ward off misunderstandings and future conflict.

Many families could benefit from professional help in this process, especially if a conflict has already developed or has a high potential to do so. A family mediator who is trained to work with high conflict families can assist you. A mediator facilitates communication between the parties and assists the parties in developing their own, unique agreement.

If you would like to discuss how a family mediator could assist your family, please contact me for a no-obligation, no-cost consultation.

Kimberly Barahona

Mediator and Parent Coordinator


Kimberly Barahona
Parent Coordination

After divorce, many parents have difficulty working together as co-parents. No surprise there! It often takes years for the psychological wounds from the divorce to heal. In the meantime, children can suffer long-term trauma when parents have difficulty putting their own issues aside.

Parent Coordination is a program that helps co-parents work together for the sake of the children. Parent Coordination sessions are led by a specially trained professional. Through a series of several sessions, generally 6-8, the co-parents practice effective communication skills, explore best practice parenting techniques, and develop a personalized parenting plan that works for them.

Parent Coordination programs are open to all co-parents who feel they could benefit from this extra level of support. In extreme cases, parent coordination may even be court-ordered. If you and your co-parent are having a difficult time, then you can assume your children are too. Don’t wait - call for a no-obligation, no-cost consultation today.

Kimberly Barahona,

Mediator and Parent Coordinator


Kimberly Barahona
Managing Conflict

Conflict is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to be a way of life.  This is true in general and it’s true in the workplace. Having procedures in place to minimize and resolve conflict before it affects productivity is essential for successful organizations.

First and foremost, it’s important to recognize that conflict is not inherently bad.  In fact, the discussions that develop from conflicting ideas are often the most productive. Teams that respect and appreciate diversity will harness creative differences and be more productive than those that don’t.  

When conflict does become a workplace issue, either between management and staff or staff to staff, mediation facilitated by a third party neutral can often resolve the issue and restore the relationship as well.  Through the process of mediation, participants learn valuable techniques to resolve future issues independently.

Contact Barahona Consulting and Mediation to explore how we can assist you in this area.  Your first consultation is free of charge.

Kimberly Barahona
Lifelong Learning Series

Never Stop Learning

Is your company doing enough to nurture workplace development?

Did you know emotional and social skills are four times more important than IQ when considering success and prestige in professional settings?✥

The most successful people in the world are lifelong learners. We all understand the importance of staying current in our field - at least when it comes to hard skills. However. many fail to understand the importance of soft skills.

Soft skills include qualities such as leadership, communication, and collaboration. One might say they are the skills you need for effectively dealing with other people.

Barahona Consulting & Mediation offers corporate seminars and business coaching to assist in the development of these essential skills.

With this blog we will explore a variety of soft skills and how our seminars and services nurture them in the workplace.

✥Emotional Intelligence: Why it Matters. Paper by Cary Cherniss, study by Rutgers University, 2005.

Kimberly Barahona