For many, divorce can feel like a high conflict event in their life because of the stress and confrontation the event brings to their life. A true high conflict divorce is something worse, it’s when a marriage ends and a war begins. Both parties can be high conflict individuals or just a single party. In some cases, the high conflict person may be abusive, controlling, narcissistic, or all of the above. Because of these character traits, every day and every aspect of the divorce (especially child custody and visitation) becomes a battle.
The “normal rules” of a divorce do not apply in the case of a high conflict divorce. There is no way to communicate healthily with your ex-spouse about aspects of your divorce and, worse yet, attempting to communicate about your children will be nearly impossible. When children are involved, it is best to create a detailed parenting and communication plan and stick to it – that way, you will have valid reasons for the actions that you take in the event your ex-spouse attacks how you handled a situation. If your spouse is unable to follow the guidelines set within the parenting plan, do not follow their lead. Reach out to an attorney at the Law Office of Hernandez and Smith and discuss your options to ensure your ex-spouse complies with the plan.
Keep in mind that the parenting plan is not all inclusive. There will be some aspects of your life that are not a part of the parenting plan such as the sharing of personal events in your life, the handling of emotions stress, and conflict outside of events relating to your children.
Here are some tips to try and cope with your high conflict ex-spouse:
- Keep your personal life to yourself. You are not obligated to share any information with your ex-spouse that does not relate to your children. This also goes for your ex-spouse; they do not need to share anything with you that does not pertain to the care of your children.
- Avoid or limit time on social media. This will prevent you from oversharing personal information or resurface emotional hurt or grief if you see posts about your ex-spouse.
- Ignore (but document) harassing messages or phone calls. Your ex-spouse may send you rude or angry emails, texts, or online messages. They may be about your personal life or how you choose to spend your time with your children. Do not respond to anything that you do not have to. If you are following the parenting plan, then you do not need to justify your actions. Document how often you receive these types of messages and confer with your attorney about the course of action you should take. If the messages contain any threats of bodily harm to you or your children, contact the police in addition to your attorney.
- Explain to family and mutual friends who you share with your ex-spouse that you are going through a high conflict divorce and that as a result, you may be withdrawing from social media or certain social events in order to prevent your ex-spouse from crossing personal boundaries. Advise them to disregard any rumors that they may hear about you and ask them to not take part in the continuation of such rumors.
- The stress of a high conflict divorce can be overwhelming – do not be afraid to seek professional help because of what your ex-spouse or others may think or say. Therapy can help you find the proper channels to establish emotional boundaries and off-set some of the stress or emotional strain your ex-spouse puts you through.
We have created a guide with recommendations for your parenting plan with a high conflict ex-spouse that can be viewed by clicking here.