Maria and Eva went to mediation with the Center for Conflict Resolution when Maria filed an eviction case against Eva.
Maria was fed up. She had allowed her daughter, Eva, and Eva’s infant daughter, to stay with her as Eva tried to find a new place to live. Eva had just left her husband and was desperate for a place to stay until she got on her feet. While she didn’t relish moving back in with her mother, she didn’t have any other options and here they were.
It was supposed to be a very short-term solution, but now, seven months later, Maria had tried numerous times to get Eva to go, only to be told by Eva that Maria would have to go to court to evict her in order to get her out.
The relationship between the parties had been strained and tense for quite some time. Now it had reached the point that if one said the sky was blue, the other said it was red. If one complained that the other filled the fridge too full, the other was irked because of empty soda cans left lying around the house.
Both women used significant time to unpack the misery and “violations” the other had visited upon them and they did so in a cascading, tit-for-tat manner. Primary among these was an overall sense from each of them that "this isn't how you treat family!" But after a while, they were both exhausted.
At this point, the mediator gently began asking some questions to help them explore what was really important to them and prioritize those needs.
Maria needed a return to peace, normalcy, and to be able to enjoy living in her own home again. Eva had very little income and had a month to go before starting a new job, so she was still in need of a place to sleep and inexpensive child care for her daughter while she saved up enough to get a place of her own.
Through the mediator’s help, they both realized that neither wanted their current living situation to stay the way it was and that they were very unlikely to improve the dynamics of their increasingly antagonistic relationship in such close quarters. This allowed them to begin to focus on what plan was necessary to find a way for Eva to move out and for Maria to have some certainty as to when she could reclaim her home.
By contrasting their potential win or lose outcomes in court to what they could control and implement themselves, the mediator was able to help them craft an agreement. Maria agreed to let Eva stay for up to two more months while Eva agreed to offer more help around the house and to talk to Maria each week about potential places she had contacted to rent. Maria also agreed to continue to provide child care for her granddaughter at very little cost, even after Eva found a new place, as long as it wasn't too far away.
Both women expressed relief that they had been able to get some things off their chests and focus on a positive plan with which to pursue their goals.
Furthermore, they were able to put a case to rest in which, no matter the judge's decision, both of them would have lost something significant: their relationship. Instead, they left with a starting point to repair it.