Signs You’re Going Through a High Conflict Divorce

A woman and a man with their backs towards each other. The woman has her eyes closed and she appears sad.

When it comes to divorce, things have shifted away from high-conflict litigation in recent years. However, courtrooms can be difficult to avoid when avenues such as mediation, collaboration, and cooperative negotiations are not an option. There are many signs a couple may be headed toward an acrimonious divorce. If you and your soon-to-be-ex are not getting along, you may be wondering if a contentious court battle lies ahead.

It’s important to be aware you’re in the midst of a high-conflict divorce or separation. First, because this type of situation can draw out the divorce process – something that most people don’t want. But also because an attorney can help you take the necessary steps to get on a calmer path and resolve your case in a timely and often less costly manner.

What is a High-Conflict Divorce?

A high-conflict divorce generally involves at least one high-conflict personality. This is someone who seems to thrive on disputes and disagreements, even when doing so is self-destructive. This type of divorce can happen when one party would rather cause conflict than cooperate with their spouse, but sometimes both parties contribute to the drama. In some cases, high-conflict people are excessively combative and therefore much less likely to come to an agreement through other methods.

While some disagreements might be inevitable during a breakup, it is particularly important to avoid escalations of conflict when children are involved. Letting fights escalate can be traumatic for a child, whereas minimizing exposure to conflict can help kids adjust after divorce.

Common Signs You’re Going Through a High-Conflict Divorce – and What You Can Do About It

So how do you tell the difference between a serious problem and the usual tension of a breakup? If one or more of the following scenarios describe your situation and the problem hasn’t improved over time:

1 Refusing to compromise.

Typically, both parties must come to some form of compromise in a fair and equitable divorce agreement. Once it becomes clear that compromise is not possible, talk to your lawyer about using a mediator to help bring the two sides together.

2 Heightened or out-of-control emotions.

Even with amicable couples, emotions can become hard to handle in a divorce, making the process more difficult for both parties. If the emotions of one or both spouses are keeping them from making rational decisions, it may be time to seek the help of a professional.

3 The courts are getting involved.

One clear sign you’re in the midst of a highly contentious divorce is that the courts are involved in resolving your issues. The fact is, sometimes spouses can’t agree on the basic terms of a divorce, such as division of property or spousal support.

4 Serious underlying issues are at play.

Domestic violence, substance abuse, and other serious problems can make mediation or other alternatives less likely and even potentially unsafe for one of the parties.

5 Fights over child custody.

Sadly, disputes over child custody remain a common source of conflict in divorce cases. In this case, partnering with an experienced family law attorney is a good way to avoid a protracted court battle and help protect the child’s best interests in the weeks or months ahead.

6 A vengeful ex.

People can have different motivations for their high-conflict behavior. Sometimes in the heat of a breakup, someone will be more focused on hurting their partner than ending their marriage amicably. Ideally, this is a phase that will end when they realize it is in their best interest to seek counseling or find another healthier way to deal with their feelings.

A Highly Rated Family Law Attorney Will Help You Through Your Divorce

Certain problems that take root during marriage can also signal that a marriage is headed toward divorce – and potentially a difficult one. In our experience, common ones are:

  1. A general lack of communication
  2. Distrust and anger due to cheating
  3. Disagreements over financial problems
  4. Near-constant arguments

However, if you decide to pursue litigation, it will be up to the court system to resolve your disputes. With a judge overseeing your case and trial dates set in advance, the process can also be more rigid than other methods.

At the Law Office of David A. King, P.C., we are skilled in handling all types of issues a couple may face when separating or divorcing. We can assist you by discussing which avenues are legally advisable, walk you through any high-conflict issues, and help you create an agreement that works in your best interests. Contact our office for a free consultation.


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