High-Conflict vs. Low-Conflict Divorce: Where Are You on the Spectrum?
Conflict is almost inevitable in divorce, but not every divorce is, or has to be, a 10 on the animosity Richter scale. Wondering if you and your ex are turning into one of “those” couples? Read on to learn where your divorce lands on the conflict spectrum.
Signs of a Low-Conflict Divorce Couple
- They both want to mediate. Mediation is one of the best ways to keep conflict – and legal fees — to a minimum. It’s also the fastest way to dissolve a marriage. When time and money are used judiciously, people have an easier time managing their emotions. Successful mediation lays the groundwork for an amicable divorce.
- Their attorneys are only as aggressive as they need to be. A family law attorney should work to protect your rights, not to light a blowtorch. Hiring a lawyer who specializes in mediation or collaborative divorce can keep conflict from snowballing.
- They prioritize their kids’ well-being. Low-conflict divorced couples understand that they need to love their children more than they hate their spouse. They’re able to set aside their own feelings about their ex and support their kids’ relationship with their other parent.
- They communicate effectively. Low-conflict couples use emails and texts to relay information, not make threats, or inventory the other’s personality flaws and parenting fails.
- They take responsibility for their own choices. Couples who keep conflict from mushrooming don’t waste time blaming the other person. While they might not have chosen to divorce, they understand that they’re still responsible for their own behavior. They’re able to act out of reason and their children’s best interests, not from anger and revenge.
- They aim for a fair settlement. Low-conflict couples want a fair and equitable split of finances and custody. They do not spend down retirement accounts to fund a scorched-earth divorce.
Signs of a High-Conflict Divorce Couple
- One or both has hired a shark attorney. Hiring an overly aggressive lawyer sets the tone for an ugly divorce. Shark attorneys turn molehills into mountains by generating unnecessary documentation, spurious allegations against the other party, and making it impossible to settle out of court.
- They fight via electronic communication. High-conflict couples use emails and texts as artillery. Their volatile communication makes agreeing on even minor issues difficult. Fighting via electronic communication can keep couples engaged in battle for years.
- They bad-mouth their ex. Trashing your ex to your kids, friends, and the mailman creates drama. It pulls other people into the fight and can destroy relationships and reputations. It never solves any problems and is horribly destructive to children.
- They undermine their co-parent’s relationship with the children. High-conflict individuals don’t want to “share” their kids with the other parent. They have a hard time accepting that their ex has the right to be in charge of their own home and parent the way they see fit (as long as kids are safe). They try to co-opt the kids by undermining their co-parent’s authority, pressuring the children to reject the other parent, and using the kids as messengers. Using kids as weapons is one of the top symptoms of a high-conflict divorce.
- They’re out for revenge. Revenge-seekers are rarely satisfied. They thrive on punishing their former spouse. Their goal is not to close the last chapter of their life and move on; it’s to torture their ex as long as possible.
- They blame their ex for everything. Even if your ex acted egregiously, marinating in blame and resentment will keep you from moving on. Couples who blame their ex for problems are unable to communicate effectively, co-parent successfully, or resolve issues without going to court.
If you’ve got a high-conflict divorce, don’t despair! Even if your ex is fueling most of the fight, there are steps you can take to minimize divorce drama.
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