Feb 12, 2016

A Constant Fear

Lucas and a friend were caught drawing in fresh cement in front of a veteran’s memorial at their local Park District, as a consequence, Lucas was arrested and his case was referred to mediation at the Center for Conflict Resolution. Since the representative of the Park District was unable to attend the mediation, Lucas and his mom ended up having a family mediation.

Lucas’s mom Susana, started the mediation by stating that what Lucas did was not a terrible thing but she did feel that Lucas didn’t take his arrest seriously. She mentioned that when she picked Lucas up from the Police station, Lucas was handcuffed and sitting on a bench smiling and talking to the officers like nothing had happened. Susana was furious that Lucas was so casual about being arrested. For Susana, seeing her son handcuffed was very upsetting. She told Lucas that she was very disappointed in him.

Lucas responded by apologizing to his mom, he confessed that being in handcuffs for hours had been an unpleasant experience. He also shared that he had been very afraid that the police would put him in a cell with dangerous people, and that he was relieved when they kept him on a bench. He told his mom that the smiling that she saw was really relief that he had not been hurt or locked up. Lucas also told her how embarrassed and ashamed he was when he returned home that evening and his grandmother wouldn’t speak to him.

Throughout the mediation Susana stated repeatedly that Lucas is a good kid and that they have a close relationship. Susana is a single mother of five boys and Lucas is the oldest and the favorite. Susana also disclosed in the mediation, that her mom lives with them and that she was worried about the effect of all this on her mother. The mediator created a space where Lucas and Susana were able to have a candid conversation and Susana shared that her brother that was in a gang and murdered when he was fourteen years old, when this happened Susana was only eleven years old. For Susana, her brother’s murder had ruined her life and it was her constant fear that Lucas might follow in his footsteps.

The mediation gave Lucas an opportunity to explain his experience and to hear his mom’s concerns and her need to protect him and his siblings. Both had a chance to express their points of view and left the mediation satisfied with the process and feeling more connected with each other.

Jan 28, 2016

Brother and Sister

At first, the case appeared to be a typical landlord-tenant dispute: The tenant, Debra, had a one year lease that had expired and the landlord, Chris, was seeking to evict her. Through conversation, the mediator learned that Debra and Chris were siblings, and that the house Debra was living in was the family home they were both raised in. The house had been owned by their father, who had died without a will. At some point, the siblings had agreed that the house would be put in Chris’s name, but that Debra would live there and pay rent. When the lease was up, Debra refused to leave and Chris sued her in eviction court.

Chris’s needs were largely financial. He had been paying nearly all the expenses generated by the home since their father’s death, and his sister’s rent payments had been erratic. He wanted to sell the house because it had become a burden. He believed he had bent over backwards to help his sister financially, but could no longer afford to burden his family by continuing to do so. Debra, on the other hand, was a single mother of three struggling financially and had a strong emotional attachment to the family home. She was attempting to get financing to purchase the home from her brother for $90,000, which Chris said was below the $110,000 market value of the home.

The mediator helped Chris and Debra talk through the issues and arrive at an agreement in which a judgment of possession was entered, but enforcement of that judgment was stayed for approximately 70 days. Debra agreed to pay rent during that time, and Chris agreed that if she got the necessary financing and paid the $90,000 purchase price the judgment of possession would be vacated. Debra agreed to move out if she could not secure financing by the agreed upon deadline. Debra and Chris came into the mediation with a lot of anger and resentment toward each other. The siblings were given time to express their concerns, develop greater understanding of what was happening for the other, and problem-solve together. By the end of the process they were laughing and smiling with each other.

Nov 17, 2015

Finding Her Way

Joyce and her one year old daughter Anna were living with her father Keith, great aunt Claudia, and other family when things started to unravel.  Joyce was having a rough time keeping up with her responsibilities and would run away from home, sometimes for days at a time just to get away. She would run to her friends and boyfriend, leaving Anna with family in the meantime. The final straw occurred when Joyce ran to Milwaukee without telling her family where she was going. She left Anna with her boyfriend’s family and upon her return she was upset to find that the baby was not there.  When she arrived back at her familial home, she was reunited with Anna, but got into an altercation with Keith and Claudia about her recent disappearance.  Joyce was forced to move out and live with another family member some miles away.

On the day of the mediation, the mediator checked in with the family and it initially seemed that things were getting better. Joyce had recently moved back into the home with her family. However, after further reality testing, it became apparent that Keith and Claudia were still upset about the incident and Joyce’s whereabouts overall. They believed that Joyce wasn’t concerned about Anna’s safety or her care. They felt taken advantage of.  In caucus, Joyce was able to explain to the mediator that she felt like she was in the way because she moved around so much and that she had not felt wanted since her mother died tragically when Joyce was five years old.

The mediator was able to bring them back together to discuss possible solutions and Joyce made her case to the family about how she was feeling. They exchanged possible solutions. Keith and Claudia were able to explain how much they cared about both Joyce and Anna. They explained that they wanted Joyce to limit her travels in order to make sure Anna was taken care of. Joyce agreed and they worked out an agreement around daily child care and overall family schedule. The family also agreed to look into counseling for Joyce in the future.

 
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