What Behaviors To Watch Out For In A High-Conflict Divorce

high conflict behaviors in divorce

The stress of divorce can make even the most diplomatic person lose their cool, but high-conflict divorce brings out the worst, most extreme behaviors in former partners.

Unlike amicable divorces, in which people are able to set their emotions aside and remain civil during the divorce process, those in high-conflict divorces can carry on acrimoniously for years. Wondering where your divorce rates on the conflict scale? Here are some common high-conflict behaviors to watch out for.

Cyber-bullying. Hostile electronic communication fuels nasty divorces. People are more likely to lash out over emails and texts than they would in public. Having 24/7 access to an ex makes it easy to harass them at whim, without having to face real-time, in-person consequences. 

Using the kids as weapons. All too often children get caught in the crossfire when warring exes treat them as part of a property settlement. This unfortunate process can happen for different reasons. Some parents believe, and feel compelled to prove, that they are the “best” parent. Some parents can’t bear the thought of their kids loving the person they hate. Some parents want to control what goes on in the other parent’s house, so they use the kids as informants and encourage defiance of that parent. Using kids as a weapon in divorce invites conflict, retaliation, and often leads to custody battles.

Extreme emotional reactions. In high-conflict divorce, people have intense, dramatic reactions that are well beyond what is called for: yelling, sobbing, threats, creating scenes in front of the children or in public places. Even if your ex has behaved badly, responding with anger and histrionics to their high conflict behaviors will just make things worse.

Defiance. Amicable divorce involves accepting and following rules and agreements. However, many high-conflict people believe that they’re above the rules and feel entitled to bend or break them: playing games with child support, obstructing visitation, hiding assets, ignoring the parenting plan. Going to court to enforce the rules may be necessary, but the psychological and financial burden of litigation can exacerbate extreme behavior.

Blaming. Blame is at the core of high-conflict divorce. People see their ex as the source of every problem in the marriage, divorce, and co-parenting relationship. This myopic thinking turns exes into opponents and prevents people from recognizing what they’re doing to feed into the conflict. Focusing on the other person’s flaws keeps you from taking accountability for your own behavior and working to reduce conflict. 

Inability to co-parent effectively. Successful co-parenting requires flexibility, compromise, and productive communication – skills and traits that high-conflict people lack. Attacking the other person’s parenting, fighting over even minor child-related issues, and a belief that the other person is The Bad Parent, makes it virtually impossible to be a co-parenting team.

Are any of these high conflict behaviors present in your own divorce? Don’t despair! Read here to learn tactics you can implement to minimize conflict.

Looking for a clear strategy in your high-conflict divorce? We can help. For answers to all your questions about divorce and separation, child custody, child support and asset division, please contact us today to schedule your initial attorney consultation. Call us at 888-888-0919 or please click the button below.

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