What is a high-conflict divorce?
A high-conflict divorce is when one or both of the parties involved in the divorce are a source of animosity, obstinance, abuse, or any other type of stubborn personality or relationship conflict. It basically means that the bad blood between you and your partner is so much so that it hinders and worsens the divorce process. In these sorts of disputes, mediation is often not an option, and these divorces often go on to arbitration or trial.
Not only does a high-conflict divorce usually include an unwilling and stubborn partner, but it may also include the difficulties of figuring out how to handle the children. There may be disagreements on how to proceed with the children – who gets custody, what sort of education they receive, what special needs the child may require. Children can often become pawns in a high-conflict divorce.
What are traits of a high-conflict person?
People involved in high-conflict divorces often have to deal with their partner who has a high-conflict personality. Common traits of someone with a high-conflict personality include:
- Blaming others, causing financial, legal, verbal, or physical attacks
- Wild emotions
- All-or-nothing thinking
- Extreme behaviors
- Traits of a personality disorder, such as narcissism, extreme anger or mania, or paranoia
- Unwilling to change their thoughts or way of thinking due to holding onto past conflicts
- Defending their own poor behavior, attacking others for perceived poor behavior, and talking poorly about their partner to the people around them
- Using the children in the relationship as pawns against their partner
If you are considering a divorce, and your partner already displays these traits, then you may wish to prepare yourself for a high-conflict divorce. It's important that you make sure to find a South Carolina family law attorney who can help you get through the divorce process with strong defenses against your partner's attacks.
How should you handle a high-conflict divorce?
A high-conflict divorce seems like an insurmountable process, but with the right help and right advice, you can come out the other side in a good place. Here are some key pieces of advice to help you survive a high-conflict divorce:
- Restrict communication: If your partner is engaging in abusive tactics, whether that be verbally, emotionally, or physically, it's best that you limit communication with them. This is best for your emotional and physical health, and will help control your spouse's behavior. Creating boundaries helps you to boost your own self-worth (you are worthy of not being abused), and tells your partner that they are not affecting you in a way they're looking for. Don't give into their tactics, and simply focus on what needs to happen to get this divorce over with. Allowing them to abuse you only gives them more power, and more control over you and your decision.
- Don't allow your children to become involved: Your partner may try to gain an advantage in your arguments by bringing in the children and making them choose sides, or turning them against you. Don't use your children as verbal messengers between you and your spouse; they should not be involved in this argument at all. The high-conflict divorce is already going to be difficult enough for your children, so do not make it more difficult for them by involving them in your arguments with your spouse.
- Self-care: It's important that you do what's best for yourself during these difficult times. Don't air your grievances and complaints about the divorce or your partner on social media. This may only hurt you by causing your friends to turn against you or rile up your spouse even further. Speaking of your spouse, it's best to unfollow them on all your social media accounts, if for your own mental well-being. Seek support from your friends and family, take walks, and do things that you enjoy While this is a stressful time in your life, you need to make sure to take care of yourself.
- Get a lawyer: A key component of surviving a high-conflict divorce is making it as impersonal a situation as possible. As an experienced attorney who's been through a divorce, I can take the heat for you and make sure that your divorce is dealt with in a careful, strategic, and compassionate way so that you and your children have to deal with as little stress as possible. It's important to have someone who knows the intricate details of the vast list of laws on your side.
No one goes into a marriage hoping to get divorced, and certainly no one wants a divorce that is messy, stressful, and painful. A divorce can be beneficial to everyone involved, but only if that divorce is settled in the proper way. High-conflict divorces can take a long time to resolve, and lots of money. It is an anxiety-inducing process, especially if your spouse is at war against you. If you take the right steps, and actively work to get through this divorce, then you can come out the other side with your sanity and emotional health intact.
At Holland Law LLC, we'll make sure that you receive the best advice and consultation, and that you will be well taken care of. Our founder, Tom Holland, has the insight to help you during this stressful time. To schedule an appointment with our firm in Fort Mill and Rock Hill, call 803-219-2630 or get in touch with us on our contact page. We also serve clients in York, Chester, and Lancaster Counties.