Not all divorces are a “conscious uncoupling,” where you can sit down and work through things together. Sometimes marriages end because the relationship is hostile and full of hurt.
More often than not, divorce is difficult and full of conflict. You argue and scream about who will get the kids or the house. You stay awake at night worrying about how your divorce will resolve. Heading into a contentious divorce can feel like getting ready for battle. Here are a few tips for dealing with a high conflict divorce.
Find an attorney who will be your advocate
If your relationship with your spouse if riddled with conflict, you need a professional on your side. Especially if your spouse is a bully, find an attorney who you trust to advocate and fight for you throughout the process.
Know your priorities going in
It can be helpful to have a clear idea of what you want out of your divorce. Are you most concerned about getting full custody of your kids? Or maybe you need the house? Focusing on what’s truly important to you rather than just trying to get things so that you spouse doesn’t end up with them will help you in the long run.
Talk about what approach will be best for you
Explain your situation to your lawyer. They will help walk you through the different dispute resolution approaches that you can take in divorce, including collaboration, mediation, arbitration and litigation. If you are dealing with a high conflict relationship, you may need more third-party involvement, like in arbitration or litigation.
Protect your children from the conflict
Your kids are probably the main things still connecting you and your spouse. They are likely top-of-mind when you think about your divorce, but that doesn’t mean they should be in the middle of it. Don’t argue in front of them, use them to communicate with your spouse or use as something to hold over your spouse. Keep them out of conflict as much as you can.
Don’t let your spouse take over your divorce proceedings. Instead, get the right people on your side and make a plan.