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Navigating a High-Conflict Divorce in Georgia

by Sharon Jackson  on September 27, 2023 under 

A high-conflict divorce arises when one or both partners resort to actions that disrupt the process or cause unnecessary emotional distress to each other. This often results in prolonged disputes and heated legal battles.

Although specific statistics may differ, researchers estimate that approximately 20 percent of couples who are separating are caught in a high-conflict divorce, characterized by intense turmoil and strife.

How to Identify a High-Conflict Individual

During divorce, navigating interactions with a high-conflict person can be challenging. They possess certain personality traits that make decision-making and adjusting to change more difficult for them.

High conflict personalities are often characterized by the following traits:

  • All-or-nothing thinking: They see the world in black and white, with no middle ground.
  • Extreme emotions: They may have difficulty regulating their emotions and may be quick to anger, sadness, or jealousy.
  • Unwillingness to compromise: They may believe that they are always right and that their way is the only way.
  • Need for control: They may try to control you, your children, and every aspect of your life.
  • Blaming others: They may rarely take responsibility for their own actions and instead blame others for everything that goes wrong.

A person with a high-conflict personality tends to take small disagreements and blow them out of proportion, turning them into intense battles. They often feel attacked, belittled, or controlled.

How Do You Divorce a High-Conflict Personality?

Divorcing a high-conflict personality can be a highly stressful and emotionally charged experience. However, you can take certain steps to protect yourself and your interests during the divorce process.

Develop a safety plan.

If you are concerned about your safety or the safety of your children, it is important to develop a safety plan. This may include things like identifying a safe place where you can go if you feel threatened, or strategizing for how you will communicate with your children if you are not able to live with them.

Document everything.

It is important to document everything that happens during the divorce process, especially any communication from your spouse. This may include text messages, emails, voicemails, and letters. You should also keep a journal of your experiences. This documentation can be helpful if you need to go to court.

Hire an experienced divorce lawyer.

If you are divorcing a high-conflict personality, it may be crucial to hire a divorce attorney who is experienced in dealing with such persons. A good divorce lawyer can help you protect your rights and interests during the divorce process.

Set boundaries and stick to them.

People with high-conflict personalities often try to manipulate and control others. It is important to set boundaries with your spouse and stick to them. This may mean refusing to engage in arguments, limiting communication, or walking away from conversations that become too heated.

Take care of yourself.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself during this time. This may include things like eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. You may also consider seeking professional counseling to help you cope with the emotional challenges of divorce.

Here are some additional tips for divorcing a high-conflict personality:

  • Do not engage with your spouse's behavior. If your spouse is trying to provoke you, walk away or refuse to respond.
  • Do not try to reason with your spouse. People with high-conflict personalities are often not interested in rational discussion.
  • Do not give in to your spouse's demands. If you give in once, they will be more likely to make demands in the future.
  • Do not use your children as pawns. This will only hurt your children and make the divorce process more difficult.

What to Expect in a High-Conflict Divorce

Here are some common characteristics and expectations in a high-conflict divorce:

Frequent Disagreements

High-conflict divorces are marked by frequent disagreements and conflicts between the spouses. These conflicts can arise over various issues including child custody, property division, spousal support, and visitation rights.

Emotional Intensity

Emotions run high in high-conflict divorces. Anger, resentment, and hurt feelings are common, and these emotions can escalate disputes and make communication difficult.

Complex and Expensive Legal Proceedings

High-conflict divorces often involve lengthy and costly legal proceedings. Both parties may hire aggressive attorneys, and there may be multiple court hearings and motions filed.

Child Custody Battles

Child custody is a significant source of conflict in high-conflict divorces. Spouses may fight vigorously over custody arrangements, parenting time, and decision-making authority, often requiring the involvement of child custody evaluators and extensive court intervention.

Financial Disputes

Division of assets and liabilities can be a contentious issue. Spouses may disagree on how to divide property, retirement accounts, and other financial assets, leading to property appraisal disputes and forensic accounting.

Allegations of Misconduct

In high-conflict divorces, it's not uncommon for one or both parties to make allegations of misconduct such as abuse, infidelity, or financial impropriety. These allegations can complicate the divorce process and lead to investigations.

Restraining Orders and Protective Orders

In cases of domestic violence or threats, one spouse may seek restraining orders or protective orders against the other. This can further escalate the conflict.

Use of Children as Pawns

Unfortunately, in high-conflict divorces, children may become pawns in the dispute. One parent may try to limit the other parent's access to the children or use the children to gain leverage in negotiations.

Emotional Toll

High-conflict divorces can be emotionally draining for all parties involved, including the children. The stress, uncertainty, and ongoing conflict can take a toll on mental and emotional well-being.

Extended Timeline

Due to the numerous disputes and legal proceedings involved, high-conflict divorces often take much longer to finalize than amicable divorces.

Note that not all divorces with conflicts become high-conflict divorces. Many couples can work through their disagreements with the help of mediation, counseling, or negotiation. However, when the level of conflict is high and communication breaks down, it's essential to have legal representation and, in some cases, therapeutic support to navigate the process as smoothly as possible.

Contact an Experienced Gwinnett County Family Law Attorney

Are you currently going through a divorce with someone exhibiting a high-conflict personality? We have extensive experience handling such challenging cases. For a customized approach for your unique circumstances, we invite you to reach out to Attorney Sharon Jackson, LLC at (678) 909-4100.

Our compassionate family law firm understands the intense stress and uncertainty you may be facing, and we are here to provide personalized legal service as you navigate through this difficult period.


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