Going through a divorce is always challenging, but if your spouse is especially
argumentative and contentious, it can be even more trying. The divorce
process is often emotional and stressful for everyone, but some people
can respond to the difficulties of divorce poorly. High conflict personalities
can be extremely difficult to negotiate with because they rarely hear
other perspectives or opinions that do not match their own. High-conflict
people tend to rise to anger quickly, and they can be difficult to handle
complex situations with. In fact, some of the more difficult attributes
of high-conflict personalities might be some of the reason for your divorce.
In order to make the divorce process easier for you and your family, make
sure you know how to handle a high-conflict spouse.
One of the most important things you need to do when dealing with a high
conflict divorce is to set strict boundaries with your spouse. It can
be very easy to be bullied and overshadowed by the demands of your contentious
spouse, but by setting clear boundaries you can help limit your spouse’s
influence. These boundaries might limit how often the two of you contact
one another, the ways in which contact can be made, and what topics you
discuss. For example, if things are extremely difficult between you two,
you might choose only to talk through your respective attorneys. Or, if
you share children, you might choose to limit your conversations to their
welfare, and only via text message, unless it is an emergency. Whatever
the boundaries are, be firm and make sure you choose restrictions you’re
Putting a limit on how much your spouse can contact you can significantly
help in easing your stress level. Sometimes contentious personalities
go searching for arguments, or they get attached to one idea or issue
and cannot let it go until they feel it is resolved in a way they see
fit. However, this way of thinking can be extremely hard on you. So, if
your spouse has taken to late night phone calls or endless text messages
and emails, it is important that you set strict limitations regarding
how often your spouse contacts you, and what topics he or she may bring up.
Get Everything in Writing
Many high-conflict personalities also tend to exhibit narcissistic and
selfish characteristics. What they tell you one day might not be what
they tell you the next day, especially if it makes them look or feel better
to change their tune. So, to protect yourself and your children, the best
thing you can do is get everything in writing. If your spouse is coming
to pick up your children late, therefore giving him or her less time with
the kids, make sure the agreement is in writing. Text messages and emails
are the best method of communication, this way you can automatically save
all conversations, but if you discuss something in person, make sure you
find a way to document it later. You might send an email confirming all
that you agreed to, or you might prepare actual documents with your attorney.
Hire the Right Attorney
When it comes to dealing with a contentious divorce, the type of representation
you choose can make all the difference. High-conflict individuals can
be very difficult to deal with, and it is important that you work with
an attorney who can defend your rights in the face of your difficult spouse.
Talk to your lawyer about this issue, and make sure he or she has a plan
for your divorce, and has experience working on cases like yours.
Contact Law Office of Kathryn Marteeny
to get started.