What Is High-Conflict Divorce?

A high-conflict divorce comes from individuals with a high-conflict personality. A high-conflict personality is no layman’s term. In fact, a high-conflict personality characterizes people who tend to be more dramatic, emotional, or erratic. These characteristics adversely affect a person’s interrelationships and how they function within the world. This makes it no surprise why they often experience divorce. In all divorce cases, the goal is to settle the conflict amicably. However, for individuals with a high-conflict personality, this can be challenging.

High-conflict personality does not encompass every challenging personality. A narcissist, sociopath, individual with bipolar disorder, a gatekeeper, or even a substance abusing addict would not be considered as having a high-conflict personality. Separating from your life partner is difficult enough, but individuals with high-conflict personalities tend to reach their boiling points even sooner. When children are involved, or allegations of cruelty or infidelity are thrown into the mix, the process can become even slower.

Working with a high-conflict personality in a high-conflict divorce case requires a specialist. A family law specialist will have experience handling these types of personalities and challenges within a case. They will be able to delicately handle child custody, marital assets and debts, and other complications that may arise. If you are involved in a high-conflict divorce, it is highly recommended to trust in a family law specialist.

Tips for Working With a High-Conflict Personality

The key to remember is that a high-conflict divorce is not simply like any other divorce. The best way to handle a high-conflict divorce is with the right team of professionals, strategic planning, and emotional stability.

Tip #1: Hire a Family Law Specialist

An attorney, a lawyer, and a family law specialist are all similar terms with very different meanings. Especially in a high-conflict divorce when personalities and conditions can be extreme, you want a litigator, not just a negotiator. You want an attorney, a family law specialist, who is committed to practicing the law with the goal of getting you the best outcome.

This means that a family law specialist who is truly a litigator will not twist your arm to settle, when a settlement is clearly not in everyone’s best interests. This can be an excruciating process for everyone because high-conflict personalities rarely do the right thing. An experienced family law specialist however knows that you have to give the individual something important to lose before they will do the right thing.

Tip #2: Have a Strategy Designed

Hiring an attorney and filing divorce papers is important, but having a strategy designed to handle your high-conflict personality spouse is key in developing the strategy. Without a strategy in tact, it is likely that your spouse will try to gaslight the situation and make you feel insignificant in every way, hopefully making you back out of the decision to divorce. Avoid gaslighting by creating a plan with your attorney. Understand what will happen throughout every step: the discovery process, the disclosure process, child custody issues, and so on. In addition, have a backup plan for when your original plan backfires, as they often do with high-conflict personality individuals.

Tip #3: Be Emotionally Prepared

If you don’t already see a counselor or therapist to help handle your emotions living with a high-conflict personality, this is a surprise. When divorce is on the table, it becomes even more important to seek professional help. Your lawyer helps you with the legal side, a counselor helps you with the mental side, both of which you need for sound legal judgement. Don’t let a high-conflict personality destabilize you. Most of their threats will be empty and fueled by the need to conflict. If you think instead of react, you will quickly realize that nothing can happen until the court decides it.

When filing a high-conflict divorce, don’t waste any time. Prepare a supportive, professional team to make the process as easy as it can be with a spouse who has a high-conflict personality. A family law specialist and a therapist can make all the difference in your life. These professionals will ensure that your best interests are the most important.