What Is a High Conflict Divorce?
Divorce is never a pleasant or easy process, but it can be even more difficult when a couple struggles to work together. A high conflict divorce is one that is marked by greater than average animosity or conflict between the parties. These divorces can be incredibly difficult emotionally and often take longer to resolve than the average divorce.
Common hallmarks of a high conflict divorce include:
- Everything is a battle
- Excessive fighting
- Most (or all) divorce matters are contested
- A win-lose mentality
- Difficulties communicating
- Refusal to compromise
In high conflict situations, you may also see one party seeking to control or punish the other. You may also have instances of one spouse trying to hide assets or dissipating marital assets as a means to prevent the other spouse from accessing them. Both dissipation and hiding assets are illegal, and if you believe this is happening with your case, you should contact your lawyer right away.
Why High Conflict Divorces Are So Challenging
High conflict divorces are not only difficult in a literal sense. They are extremely difficult emotionally as well. This is especially true in cases where children are involved. Unfortunately, some people use their children as pawns to get back at their former spouses during a divorce. It also makes establishing a healthy co-parenting relationship extremely difficult.
Issues that are made more difficult by a high conflict situation can include:
- Child custody and support
- Property division
- Spousal support
Tips for Navigating a High Conflict Divorce
Many people report feeling isolated and alone when going through a high conflict divorce. It can be difficult for outsiders to understand what you’re going through, and finding support can be difficult. At Hunt Law Firm, we have helped many clients going through all types of high conflict divorces, and we understand what you’re going through. Below we’ve provided a few tips for helping you navigate this difficult process.
Get Help from Your Attorney
Your lawyer is your best resource. When going through a high-conflict divorce, turning to your attorney for guidance is your first step. Not only will a knowledgeable lawyer be able to help you with the legal process of divorce, but they can use their experience to help you know what to expect and provide you with guidance.
For example, if you suspect your spouse is hiding marital assets, your lawyer can help you interpret the situation and advise you on how to proceed. Your lawyer is also an invaluable resource when it comes to helping you find other professionals to help you, such as family counselors, financial advisors, and more.
It is important to remember that your lawyer is on your side. They are here to represent you and your best interests throughout the divorce process and beyond. While you may feel like you are alone, with a good lawyer by your side, you can be sure someone is fighting for you.
Establish Clear Methods of Communication
Communication is one of the most difficult aspects of a high-conflict divorce. Discussions about seemingly small issues can devolve into an outright fight. When dealing with someone who refuses to cooperate, knowing how to talk to them can feel impossible. Though it may take time, establishing clear methods of communication can help.
For example, if you know that phone conversations with your former spouse always end up in a yelling match, consider limiting yourselves to written forms of communication, such as email or text. Sometimes, written communication can give both parties the space they need to consider what they are saying and release them from the burden of responding in the heat of the moment. Written communication also allows you to digest what is being discussed and provides you with time to consider your response before sending it.
In particularly difficult situations, you may wish to limit your communication further. Working with a mediator and allowing your lawyers to handle communication whenever possible may be the best way to avoid confrontation and fighting. Speak with your attorney to find out what the best course of action is for your situation.
Set Boundaries & Stick to Them
It is also important to set boundaries and then do your best to stick to them. For example, making certain topics (such as your personal life) off-limits can help reduce conflict and help keep divorce negotiations on track and focused. Consider limiting discussions to only those topics that are relevant to your divorce. Though it is easier said than done, avoid getting pulled into conversations that you know will trigger a fight.
Even when you set strict boundaries, your former spouse will likely cross them, either intentionally or unintentionally. When this happens, do your best not to engage with them. Or, if you catch yourself getting pulled into a fight, try to remove yourself from the situation if you can. This is incredibly difficult, but over time, it may become a little easier.
Work with a Therapist or Family Counselor
When going through a high conflict divorce, it is important that you take care of your mental and emotional health. It’s also important to remember that you do not have to weather this storm alone. Many people find that working with a therapist or family counselor is helpful while going through a difficult divorce. During a divorce, your life changes drastically, and while you can predict some of the changes, you cannot always predict how you will feel about them. A therapist can also be a good resource after your divorce as you begin rebuilding your life.