High-conflict divorce is a difficult and emotional experience for all involved parties. When children are in the mix, they often get hurt the most. This type of divorce is when the level of conflict between the spouses makes it challenging to reach a resolution. High-conflict divorces can be caused by various factors, such as infidelity, financial stress, or disagreements over child custody and support. They inevitably hurt the children when not navigated properly. Luckily, there are things to do, and not to do, when in a high-conflict divorce.
Do Get Your Mindset in Check
Remain focused on your children, not the conflict. Don't let the conflict get the better of you. Work with a coach or seek self-help to understand and work through triggers from the marriage that may affect how you show up with your divorced partner. Humans are easily triggered from past pain and trauma, if not resolved. Healing old wounds happens on a personal level. Do this now so you don't let your emotions and triggers get the best of you. Being triggered can result in how you communicate, how you respond to conflict, accusations, and remarks from your co-parent (and maybe children) - and have a spiraling effect. Get on the path to taming your pain now with this (free) mini course.
Don't Make Sides
There are no sides in divorce! Children have 2 parents. Just because there is a divorce doesn't mean they get to pick one parent. Remind yourself of what makes your partner a good parent, and do not equate their role as a spouse with their role as a parent. Bad spouses do not always equal bad parents. If you find your co-parent putting your kids in this position, don't resort to doing the same! Remain your authentic self, continuing positive, quality time with your children, and allowing them the space to love both parents.
Do Put the Situation in Perspective
One way to mitigate the negative effects of high-conflict divorce is to put the dynamic into perspective: no matter the issue, remain focused on the future. This may be hard to do, until you practice. If you have children and when married were constantly arguing, maybe even in front of the kids, the silver-lining is being able to find a new partner/relationship that mirrors a healthy dynamic for your children. Now, many divorced partner don't stop the arguing there. This is what often leads to a high-conflict divorce, when they take their marital conflict right into the divorce conflict. Leave it at the door. Especially when kids are involved, you don't want them to have to now be exposed to conflict amongst their co-parents, just as they did with their married parents.
Don't Use Kids as Pawns
It is imperative for the parties to prioritize the current and future well-being of any children involved. High-conflict divorces can have a significant impact on children, causing emotional distress and potentially damaging their relationship with a parent. It is crucial for the parents to work together to create a parenting plan that prioritizes the best interests of the children, and to avoid using them as pawns in the divorce process or getting them to take sides. Don't get the kids wrapped up in the adult matters and let them suffer by creating an unwarranted custody battle.
Do Get Support as Needed
High-conflict divorce is a challenging experience that requires careful consideration and support. Seeking support and guidance when feeling stuck, prioritizing the well-being of children involved, and finding healthy ways to deal with emotions can all help mitigate the negative effects of a high-conflict divorce. Even if it's just you working on these things. For one-on-one guidance, consider working with a coach to help you navigate the ins and outs of your high-conflict situation. I have personally trained coaches who are passionate about helping parents stay on the focused path of a united family, for the sake of their children- so they can better manage their high-conflict divorce early on.
Don't Get Caught Up in Court
In high-conflict divorces, it is common for both parties to resort to litigation, where they seek assistance from the court system to reach a resolution. However, this can often make the situation worse, as it can prolong the divorce process, increase costs, and exacerbate the already high levels of conflict. If children are involved, often times they are brought into the middle of the litigation, unfortunately. While in certain circumstances court may be helpful in getting the court to intervene on a significant or harmful issue, parents can make matters worse in court by not getting prepared properly, leading to lengthy court battles and excessive legal fees. If you happen to be in this position, check out Child Custody Solutions so you can be prepared, knowledgable, and ahead of the game.