With so much talk about cooperation amongst the family law community – from unique co-parenting arrangements to uncontested divorces – it seems high conflict divorces have been cast aside. But in some cases, a high conflict divorce is the only plausible option.
Many men and fathers in New Jersey would prefer to avoid the conflict in their divorce, but their spouse has made that impossible because of their narcissistic tendencies or general disregard for being cordial. If you’ve found yourself in a high conflict divorce, you may fear the worst: a damaged relationship with your child, a costly and lengthy divorce, and emotional damage that will take you years to undo. As a high conflict lawyer in New Jersey, I can confidently tell you none of these issues are a guarantee. Follow these guidelines to avoid the negative repercussions that sometimes go hand in hand with a high conflict divorce
Be Prepared for the Worst
In a high conflict, divorce, it’s not a stretch to assume the worst. If you’re divorcing a narcissist, for example, she is sure to do everything in her power to keep the divorce high conflict. This is so she can take the attention away from her manipulative and inappropriate behaviors. A narcissist’s tendency is to make herself look as good as possible while making her ex seem unreasonable or unstable. If you anticipate behaviors like this from your spouse during the divorce, you can prepare by working with a New Jersey high conflict divorce lawyer who knows how narcissists tend to operate.
Minimize Contact with Your Spouse
Outside of meetings with your attorneys and brief conversations about your children, you shouldn’t be talking to your spouse. The more frequently you’re in communication, the more likely things will escalate and become even more contentious. You need to keep the adversarial interactions to a minimum if you hope to ever reach an agreement with your spouse. Even if you’re headed to court, the wrong kind of contact with your high conflict spouse could set you up to look unsympathetic to a judge.
Have Completely Separate Time with Your Children
Don’t assume you’ll be able to show up at the school play and get along with your ex. In all likelihood, you can’t even be in the same room at this point without conflict. Why force it for the sake of your child when you’re actually making it worse? If you end up arguing in front of your kid every time you’re around your ex, you could be doing lasting damage to your child at a time when they need to feel as secure as possible about their parents. Split up extracurriculars and events so you won’t have to run into your co-parent.
You may also consider custody exchanges where you don’t have to see your spouse. One option is utilizing school pick ups and drop offs – the child is dropped off at school by one parent and picked up by the other, so you won’t ever have to see your ex to exchange custody.
Don’t Fuel Your Spouse’s Animosity
Most high-conflict personalities want you to feed into their games by giving them a reaction or arguing with them. If you remain calm, they’ll either give up completely or tone down their tactics. Your ex wants to get a rise out of you so you’ll slip up and ultimately give her what she wants. Don’t fall for it! High conflict divorce attorneys in New Jersey have seen this play out many times, and we’ll all give you the same advice. Nothing good can come from engaging in nasty gossip, making disparaging remarks about your ex to your kids and family, or posting about your divorce on social media.
Focus on What You Can Control
At the end of the day, you can’t control how your spouse conducts herself. Focus on finding a great New Jersey high conflict divorce attorney and preparing your case. The attorneys at The Micklin Law Group handle high conflict divorces on a case-by-case basis, but we always recommend compiling financial documents and other evidence as soon as possible, whether you want to try negotiating with your ex or just head straight to court.
You should also focus on your own personal conduct, including how you talk about your ex to your children, if applicable. Your kids need their dad to be stable, loving, and positive during the divorce so they can be sure their lives won’t be changing for the worse. New Jersey divorce for men can be difficult, but it’s also difficult for kids when they aren’t supported by their parents. If your kids have told you about your ex making disparaging comments about you, don’t stoop to her level.