How To Deal with a High-Conflict Divorce


Going through a divorce is never easy, but when your spouse is particularly argumentative or difficult it can make the entire process particularly challenging. Ending your marriage might evoke feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, confusion, excitement, and even relief, which can be extremely difficult to deal with amid the legal process of divorce. Handling these emotions while also juggling the legal side of things can be challenging enough without your ex constantly picking fights and pushing your buttons. Dealing with a high-conflict person in a marriage is no simple task, and you might come to find that divorcing them is even more problematic.

People with high-conflict personalities are often narcissistic, emotional, and they usually blame others without taking any responsibility on themselves. High-conflict personalities can be passive-aggressive or simply aggressive in the ways that they express themselves, and they often experience emotional outbursts and extreme behaviors. It can be very difficult to get along with these types of personalities, especially if their ire is turned on you.

To make your high-conflict divorce more manageable, try following these straightforward tips:

Focus on the Future

It can be very easy to get caught up in past wrongs and mistakes, especially if your ex constantly brings these old wounds up in arguments. However, looking to the future is the best way to put aside negative feelings and make productive steps forward. You’re getting a divorce, which means you’re ready to move on with your life, and in order to do that, you need to do what you can to progress, not fall into old patterns. Rather than falling into arguments with your spouse about past grievances, try to focus on the here and now and only discuss issues that are current and applicable.

Be Realistic

You might try to be optimistic about your divorce, and that might be good in some situations, but it’s also healthy to be realistic about your high-conflict spouse. High-conflict personalities are very difficult to handle, and they usually don’t do well negotiating or listening to the needs of others. In short, you should be prepared to set boundaries, protect your emotions, and limit contact so as to prevent unnecessary arguments. Don’t expect the impossible from your spouse. If they haven’t cooperated or honored your limits before, they probably won’t start now.

Leave Your Children Out of It

If you are dealing with a particularly contentious divorce, the last thing you want is to let your children get caught up in the middle of it. Your children might be aware of how difficult your spouse can be, or they might not. Regardless, you don’t want to be the one to ruin their perception of their other parent, nor should you use your kids as the go-between to avoid confrontation. Do what you can to keep your kids away from any conflicts, don’t let them hear you arguing, and never speak ill of your spouse in front of them. You don’t need to lie to your children, but you also shouldn’t bad mouth their other parent.

Always Get Proof

High-conflict personalities aren’t often reliable and your ex might go back on his or her word. Even if you reach an agreement verbally, always get it in writing. When you have substantial proof of all negotiations, including those regarding visitation, child custody, spousal support, property division, or other key issues, you should always make sure you have evidence to support your claims. Keep copies of important emails, text messages, voicemails, and so on. If you aren’t sure what more you can do, discuss other options with your lawyer.

Take Care of Yourself

Divorcing a high-conflict personality is difficult, to say the least, so make sure you find time to take care of your own needs as well. Take up a new or forgotten hobby, like art classes, yoga, kickboxing, sewing, writing, or something else that puts a smile on your face. You should also be talking to someone about what you’re going through. Confide in a close friend, a family member, or even a therapist. Whoever you choose, make sure it’s someone you can trust. Keeping your feelings bottled up will only make it harder for you to deal with later, so take the time to let your feelings out in a safe environment.

Let Our Firm Help

If you are dealing with a high-conflict divorce, our firm can help. We understand how difficult it is to deal with a particularly argumentative spouse, and we know how it could affect your case. High-conflict divorces often require more time and attention, especially when it comes to negotiating child custody, property division, and other important divorce aspects. If your spouse tries to draw out the divorce process or attempts to lie to the court to gain favor, we can use our ample experience and legal knowledge to protect your interests and work towards a favorable outcome for your case.

Contact Ford & Friedman to discuss your case with our Henderson divorce attorney.

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