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7 Tips on How to Handle a High-Conflict Ex in Your Family Law Case

Posted on in Divorce

California divorce lawyerMany people seek a divorce because they are tired of fighting with their spouse. Once they begin the divorce process, which typically includes property division, child custody, and setting support, they see that many more fights may be in store.

Perhaps it is the case that the other spouse is taking a tense situation and adding fuel to the fire. These spouses are considered to be high-conflict, and it can feel like there is no way out but to put up a fight.

With the help of a skilled divorce attorney, you will be able to deal with difficult situations and minimize the fighting. Here are some tips on how to manage a high-conflict ex:

  1. Consider mediation, but understand its limits. Mediation can be a great tool for resolving conflicts during divorce, allowing spouses to address their concerns without the need for costly court battles. However, mediation requires compromise, and spouses must be able to work together to reach an agreement. If one spouse refuses to budge on any issues, mediation will ultimately be a waste of time and money.
  2. Keep documentation. Save any communications you have with your ex, including emails, voicemails, and text messages, in case what they said to you becomes relevant later. Write down what was discussed in spoken conversations so you can refer back later to anything they said to you.
  3. Do not let your ex use your children against you. Parents should do everything they can to keep their children out of divorce conflicts, but in some high-conflict cases, parents try to use children as a weapon. If your children tell you that your ex is speaking negatively about you to them, be sure to document this. Do not let your ex send messages to you through your children. Be sure you are attending your children’s doctor appointments and parent-teacher conferences, and speak to teachers, day care operators, and babysitters to let them know what is going on and find out if they have any concerns.
  4. Understand your options for legal enforcement. Any legal decisions made during divorce proceedings, such as agreements on how to divide property and temporary arrangements for parental responsibility, parenting time schedules, and child support, are court orders that are legally enforceable. If your ex is disobeying any of these orders, speak to your attorney about whether you should ask for your ex to be held in contempt of court.
  5. If necessary, involve law enforcement. If your ex is making things difficult for you when you are retrieving property from the home, you can contact the police and ask for an officer to provide an escort and ensure that court orders are carried out. If there are problems exchanging children at the beginning and end of parenting time, you can arrange to have this done in a public place, with police officers present. If your ex is threatening or harassing you in any way, let them know that you will contact the police to make a complaint.
  6. Know what you can control. If your ex is stirring the pot, you must understand that his or her behavior is outside your control. You can control how you react and how the high-conflict person affects you and your children.
  7. Explain your limits to your ex. It is key to set boundaries for interactions with your high-conflict ex. For example, you should tell him or her when you are available to discuss any given issue and stick to those boundaries. If your ex tries to call or text after your times of availability or use abusive language, tell them your phone will be off and you will not be responsive.

A Los Gatos/Cupertino Family Lawyer Can Help Diffuse a High-Conflict Case

If your ex is making your family law proceedings more difficult than they should be, you do not have to go through this process alone. A family law attorney can advise you of your rights and advocate for you in court. Call the skilled Los Gatos family law attorney at the Ventresca Law Firm at 408-395-8822 to learn more about your options. We serve clients in the Los Gatos, Sunnyvale, Saratoga, Cupertino, and San Jose areas.


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