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If you’re currently going through a high-conflict divorce, you might feel like your life is one big UFC fight. High-conflict divorces can be an exhausting endeavor for even the most emotionally intelligent person. If you find yourself engaging in exhausting text wars, exchanging fiery emails, or constantly looking for ways to get back at your scheming ex-spouse, are you prepared to handle a high-conflict divorce?  If the aforementioned scenario sounds like what you’re going through, you can still take steps to make the divorce process smoother.

What Is a High-Conflict Divorce?

In Jill Coil’s podcast, Dr. Sue describes a high-conflict divorce as a situation where “two people are extremely adversarial with each other.” Divorces often become high-conflict because the situation continues to escalate: when one person throws a punch, the other person throws a punch too. Because divorces are such emotionally complex situations, many people cannot just simply walk away when their ex does something offensiveespecially when their ex-spouse has acted with malice and cruelty.

Who Is at Risk for a High-Conflict Divorce?

Though anybody can go through a high-conflict divorce, certain personality types and disorders can make divorce an extremely difficult process. People who have personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder, or people who exhibit features of personality disorders, may be more likely to engage in aggressive and destructive behaviors. And, a lot of people have a very difficult time appropriately responding to an ex’s inappropriate behavior. If your ex has a personality disorder, or if your ex has traits associated with a personality disorder, you need to make sure you’re dealing with the behaviors without escalating the situation. For example, if they’re sending rude and disrespectful messages, you need to make sure you’re not responding with disrespectful messages of your own. The difference between $5,000 divorce and $100,000 divorces are not the facts of the case but the parties and how adversarial they are to each other.  

What You Can Do:

The good news is that some of the best ways to de-escalate a high-conflict situation start with you. When a person going through a divorce acts in an antagonistic manner, they are typically attempting to get a reaction out of you. If you consistently respond to their behavior in a calm and collected manner, the ex’s inappropriate behavior will eventually subside. Many people find coaching, therapy, or a combination of the two, to be extremely effective in helping them cultivate the skills necessary to respond appropriately. It’s also important that you set boundaries with communication with your ex. Creating boundaries is such an important part of surviving a high-conflict divorce. If you need help setting boundaries, Jill Coil covers the subject extensively in her podcast on high-conflict divorces.

 Maintaining Reasonable Expectations:

If you’re currently going through a high-conflict divorce, it’s important that you maintain reasonable expectations. Many people who are starting a challenging divorce process feel as though they want to “win.” However, there is no winning in divorceespecially in high-conflict divorces. If you are going through a high-conflict divorce, you will need to manage expectations and be ready to negotiate and compromise.

When You Need Help with a High-Conflict Divorce:

At CoilLaw, we’re here to help you get through a high-conflict divorce. We pride ourselves on our unique ability to advocate for, inform, and empower our clients. If you have questions about your high-conflict divorce, CoilLaw is just a phone call away.


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