Some people have a very difficult time handling problems, especially big, life-altering issues involving divorce. If your spouse has narcissistic tendencies, is inflexible, quick to draw conclusions, argumentative, and defensive, your divorce is very likely to be high-conflict. A high-conflict divorce can be very stressful and much more troublesome than your typical divorce, but it is still doable, with the right attitude and coping mechanisms.
Perhaps your spouse has only become difficult since the divorce process began, or maybe his or her high-conflict traits were what caused your divorce in the first place. Whatever the situation, it is important for you to understand how to deal with your contentious divorce in a way that minimizes conflict and helps you meet your ultimate goal.
1. Don’t Dwell On the Past
Moving forward is certainly easier said than done, especially when it comes to marital disagreements. However, when it comes to dealing with a high-conflict spouse, its best to forget past skirmishes and focus on the issues at hand. Your spouse may hold grudges and may try to bring up old, tired arguments or open old wounds. These types of tactics are immature and hurtful, and it’s important that you do everything you can to hold your head high and focus on discussing only what applies to your divorce.
2. Set Boundaries
It is important to set boundaries with your spouse in order to limit contact and protect yourself from unnecessary arguments or contact that could add to your stress. Set time frames for calls or text messages, especially if your ex has a tendency to rant or rave at you whenever given the chance. If he or she inappropriately contacts your workplace, friends, or family members in an attempt to get to you, put a stop to it immediately. If he or she does not listen, talk to your lawyer about potential options for court-ordered restraining orders.
Limit communication to written means, like emails, if necessary. If you share children, you will need to find an appropriate method of communication, but don’t be afraid to set boundaries there as well. If you do not share children, it might be better to communicate solely through your lawyers.
3. Get Everything in Writing
High-conflict personalities have a tendency towards selfishness and narcissism. For this reason, among others, it is extremely important to get everything you discuss in writing. If your spouse agrees to let you have the children next Sunday for a family party, don’t just take your word for it, get his or her agreement in writing in an email or text message. Likewise, any changes to custody arrangements, discussions about property, or other relevant issues regarding your divorce should be recorded. Proof of his or her promises and actions is extremely important and can be used in court to help your case.
4. Compromise When Appropriate
Although it can be very difficult to give any victories over to your high-conflict spouse, however small, it is important to understand the value of compromise. While it certainly isn’t good to let your spouse walk all over you, it is important to know when to stand your ground and when to concede. Nobody ever gets absolutely everything they want in a divorce, so it is a good idea to prepare to give a little in order to get what you want. This is especially important if you share children. Research shows that it is best for children to have both of their parents involved in their lives.
However, that being said, if your high-conflict spouse is in any way abusive, that significantly changes your options. If you are dealing with an abusive spouse, inform your lawyer immediately and take the appropriate measures to protect yourself and your children.
Contact Smith Law Offices, LLC to talk to our St. Charles divorce lawyers about your case.