5 signs your divorce has become high-conflict

You tried everything possible to make your divorce go smoothly. Both you and your attorney made every attempt to diffuse the scenario and offer incredibly fair settlement offers. Every “olive branch” you gave was met with more anger, resentment, and a refusal to play ball for everyone’s sake. The challenges you are facing have now become more extensive, requiring highly specific precision legal skills to navigate them. 
 
This is the point of the divorce where I say to my clients “buckle-up, you’re in for a ride!”
Having to get caught up in the family court system is—in my opinion, not a good place to be, especially for men. Your soon-to-be ex-spouse has become stubborn, hostile, and vengeful so it’s vital that you prepare for the worst.
 
The issues usually fought over are money and custody (that’s a no-brainer) but it can become so petty that you think you’ve lost your mind when you read the motions they have made with the courts. One of the many sad and frustrating parts of this is that your children are likely to get caught up in the battle that has been waged against you. In fact, in over 10 years of being a divorce coach, I have never known of a high-conflict divorce where the children were not being affected and used as pawns.
Why do people choose to go down this toxic path?
Every phone call to your attorney, a motion submitted, and court dates cost you an exorbitant amount of money in legal fees. One reason a spouse may do this is that they feel they have lost control— probably because of losing the marriage.
 
Let’s look at some signs you need to know if you’re divorce is going to become high- conflict:
 
1.    Revenge: Whether they want to get out of the marriage or not, they spend all their energy attempting to do as much damage to you as possible— even if it means destroying you financially which in turn will affect them. They cannot see past their anger and desire to “punish” you.
2.    Deceit: If your spouse lies, she is probably going to be deceitful about everything throughout your divorce process. This includes verbal agreements you may have had, potential parenting plans, events that happened in the past— especially the finances/assets may all be manipulated and lied about. Your spouse may attempt to hide assets, so be prepared and if needed, hire a forensic accountant.  They spin so many fabrications giving you no choice but to spend large amounts of money with a skilled attorney and possibly a forensic accountant to cut through them.
3.    Unwillingness to compromise: I use the word ‘unwillingness’ for a reason. Each of us has the ability to compromise, however, in these circumstances your spouse is refusing to do so—unwilling. In a high-conflict divorce your spouse won’t agree on any points you’ve tried to settle and put to rest. They convince themselves and the people around them that any agreements made will result in a loss. Their driving force is usually about making their spouse suffer. This spitefulness is motivated by watching you go down in flames; emotionally, physically, and most importantly financially. It’s such a shame high-conflict personalities don’t see how destructive this behavior is to the family dynamic going forward.
4.    Violating court orders:  If your spouse is violating temporary orders that have been put into place, this is a MAJOR red flag! Whether it’s in big or small ways, violating court orders is a tell-tale sign this is going to continue most likely after the divorce is finalized. In these scenarios, co-parenting and parenting plans are extremely difficult to adhere to. This is where you need to document everything. Often, orders on custody arrangements, distribution of assets, and the occupancy of the home are violated the most common to be disregarded and violated from high-conflict personalities.
5.    Being volatile or confrontational: When your spouse looks for every opportunity to rattle you with endless emails, texts, and phone calls they will do anything to keep the conflict going at any cost. If your spouse is a narcissist, they will thrive on “gaslighting” you and have the belief they are above the law— rules do not apply to them. You can bet they will create conflict throughout the process and after so be very careful how and if you respond to their communications. Often, it’s best not to take the bait and shut it down with silence. Remember, they are waging a war against you, don’t let them see the effect this process is having on you, that is what they desire the most. Many of the things your spouse is saying and doing are beyond your control. I say, pick your battles wisely, let the other ones go.
 
We all have the courage and strength to face the challenges life deals us. I’m always reminding my clients that as bad as things may be currently, they DO have what it takes to endure this without losing their sanity. I try to focus on this being a bad chapter with a life lesson to it. Focusing on “Why is this happening to me, I don’t deserve this?” will only keep you frustrated and stuck, rather,say “What am I learning from all of this? What will I do differently in my next chapter?” Take the high road, and eventually, the truth will speak for itself.
 

Hayley Lisa

The Divorce Coach For Men

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