When a marriage ends, it is rarely an easy situation. Many times a divorce starts uncontested only to turn highly emotional. Once boundaries are broken, conversations about financial, legal, and custody matters can become sensitive and escalate into a high-conflict divorce situation.
Often a high-conflict divorce involves a spouse who has a high-conflict personality. Divorces involving a high-conflict personality must be approached differently because getting the wrong advice or making the wrong decisions could prove to be costly, not only financially, but mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Why These Cases Must Be Approached Differently
Spouses with high-conflict personalities tend to be destructive in a variety of ways. They view others who disagree with them as adversaries. They don’t just look for people to blame for their problems; they target them and will continually bully, harass, humiliate, and annoy them endlessly.
Dealing with a spouse who has a high-conflict personality requires a professional who is detached from the situation and can manage the divorce proceedings professionally.
As you’re going through a high-conflict divorce, not only do you need to protect yourself and your loved ones from physical and emotional dangers, but you may need to protect your home, your bank accounts, and other property.
If you are going through a high-conflict divorce, you should have a team of experts on your side. An experienced legal team can help you obtain temporary court orders regarding child support, scheduling a temporary parenting plan, identify living arrangements, and finances.
Preparing Yourself for a High-Conflict Divorce
- Prepare for the worst – Document everything. A person with a high conflict personality will not “just move on” from the divorce. They will seek every opportunity to get revenge. They will take you to court over minor issues. They will attempt to sway your children against you. You will not change them, so you should prepare yourself for the long haul.
- Minimize your contact – A person with high conflict personality thrives of confrontation. They will twist words, bully, harass, humiliate, and belittle you. If at all possible, discontinue face-to-face meetings with them. Always have a third-party witness if you do have to meet with them.
- Keep your feelings to yourself – Again, a person with high conflict personality thrives seeking ways to destroy their “enemy.” Sharing your emotions is one area of vulnerability they will exploit. If you become angry, they will point out that you’re emotionally unstable. If you disagree with them, they may see it as threatening. You’re best to keep your emotional consistent and to yourself.
- Never admit to a mistake (especially in writing) – A person with high conflict personality will likely twist your words or the context of the writing to use it as ammunition against you. Further, they will likely see this as a validation of their behavior and may use it against you in future court proceedings.
- Be realistic in your expectations – A high conflict divorce is a complicated matter simply because one party does not want this to be amicable. They are going to argue every matter. They are going to attempt to validate their behavior and seek revenge at every turn, so you must have realistic expectations about the process and your post-divorce life.
- Seek help from experts – Trying to negotiate a high-conflict divorce alone will be one of the most challenging events you will ever have to manage. As such, it is highly recommended that experts from different disciplines, not just an attorney be brought into the process in order to help you and/or your children throughout the proceedings and to aid the court in getting to the bottom of the issues.
If you’re thinking of getting divorced, contact the experienced family attorneys at The Campbell Law Group who know how to approach these difficult cases and can help you predict potential areas of conflict, reach agreements with your spouse, and commit them to writing in a legally enforceable contract. We are here to help.