How to Deal with a High-Conflict Divorce

September 1, 2023

Key Characteristics of a High-Conflict Divorce

During a divorce, emotions run high, and angry and bitter emotions often take over. Coping with divorce can be that both partners have emotional challenges to work through. But that doesn’t mean that all divorces are high-conflict. High-conflict divorces have several hallmarks. The first is the frequency and intensity of disputes. In a high-conflict divorce, the divorcing spouses may find it challenging to agree on even basic issues such as child custody, property division, or financial support. Arguments may escalate into shouting matches or legal battles. Cooperation is rare and complex, making reaching agreements or making joint decisions challenging.

Characteristics of a High-Conflict DivorceHigh-conflict divorces are often long, with prolonged legal proceedings. Due to the inability to resolve issues amicably, high-conflict divorces tend to drag on for an extended period, resulting in increased legal fees and emotional stress. They typically require significant involvement from divorce attorneys and may end up in court for resolution. Because agreements are challenging to maintain, court orders may need to be modified frequently, leading to additional legal proceedings and disputes.

High-conflict divorces also emotionally affect all involved parties, including spouses and children. It can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. Children in high-conflict divorces often experience more emotional distress and may become caught in the crossfire of their parents' disputes. This can significantly affect their well-being if custody orders change or remain in limbo for long periods.

Financial Challenges of a Problematic Divorce

Many of the conflicts in divorce cases stem from financial issues. As soon as divorce proceedings are initiated, get ahead of the curve by gathering all financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, and property records. This will help you understand the extent of your assets and liabilities, which is essential for equitable property division in Illinois.

If you have significant community property or other assets, you should enlist the help of financial advisors or divorce financial analysts specializing in high-conflict divorces. They can assist you in making informed decisions regarding property division, spousal support, and child support. An experienced Illinois high-conflict divorce lawyer can be your greatest asset when dealing with complex financial matters. They will advocate for your rights, ensure compliance with Illinois divorce laws, and help you secure a fair financial settlement.

Your divorce lawyer and financial professionals can help you develop a post-divorce budget that outlines your anticipated expenses and income. This will help you manage the financial challenges of divorce and your finances after proceedings are completed.

It is also important to remember that many of the financial conflicts in a high-conflict divorce aren’t actually about money or assets. These are easy avenues for control. Also, be aware that emotions are often attached to assets like homes and other real estate, which can lead to fights over how these assets are split.

Spousal support is often complicated in case of high-conflict divorce. Spousal support (also known as alimony) may be awarded to help the receiving spouse adjust to single life or maintain their standard of living until they can become self-supporting when the marriage ends. In cases where one spouse significantly out-earns the other, or cases where one spouse has primary or complete custody over children, financial support is also frequently awarded.

Assets During Divorce

It is also extremely important that you are upfront about your assets. Hidden assets can incur legal penalties in the future– in severe cases, fraud charges can be brought against someone who hides assets. Additionally, hiding assets can result in perjury charges if you have signed a financial affidavit. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, your best option is to engage a forensic accountant.

The following signs are often evidence of a spouse attempting to hide assets:

Understanding the techniques used to hide assets can equip you with the necessary tools to detect any financial distinctions. Here are some methods spouses often use:

  • Concealing cash in safe deposit boxes, travelers’ checks, or other places you wouldn’t typically check
  • Transferring money to family members or friends
  • Opening a custodial account and hiding the money under a child’s name
  • Underreporting income or overreporting debts
  • Deferring salary, bonuses, or contracts until after the divorce
  • Purchasing high-value items that can easily be under-appraised or overlooked, like jewelry, art, or antiques

Remember, these actions are unethical and illegal and can carry severe penalties.

If you see this behavior in your spouse before or during your high-conflict divorce, notify your lawyer immediately.

Emotional Challenges of a High-Conflict Divorce

There are many emotional challenges of divorce. It's crucial to seek emotional support from friends, family, or a therapist who can provide a safe space to express your feelings and help you navigate the emotional rollercoaster. However, don’t expect more than support; be aware that your friends may take sides. Consider joining a divorce support group where you can connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Sharing your stories and learning from others can provide valuable insights and a sense of community.

Communicating with a high-conflict spouse is also frequently a problem. Direct communication with your spouse may only exacerbate the conflict in high-conflict divorces. Use your divorce attorney or a mediator as an intermediary to relay important messages whenever possible. Email or written communication can be more effective in high-conflict situations than verbal communication. It allows you to communicate your thoughts and concerns without the immediacy and emotional intensity of face-to-face or phone conversations. It also creates a paper trail and limits the effectiveness of “he-said, she-said” arguments.

Establish clear boundaries with your high-conflict spouse. Be firm but respectful in your interactions, and avoid engaging in arguments or personal attacks. When discussing issues related to your children, prioritize their well-being above all else. Keep their best interests in mind and seek solutions that support their emotional and physical health.

Another important act to consider is your social media channels. We recommend you avoid commenting negatively about your spouse. While this can be extremely difficult, it can also drive further wedges into the relationship– and make things more challenging in litigation.

Protecting Your Children During Conflict

If you have children, it is far too easy to drag them into the proceedings of a high-conflict divorce. This can cause emotional problems for years to come. Even amicable divorces are challenging for children, and the courts know this. Judges always adjudicate with children's best interests in mind, which should be your primary concern as a parent. Getting wrapped up in the acrimony with your partner is easy, but you must always remember to put your children’s needs first.

Child custody arrangements in high-conflict divorces can be emotionally charged and contentious. In Illinois, as in many states, the court's primary consideration is the child's best interests. In high-conflict divorces, creating a detailed parenting plan outlining custody and visitation schedules is often beneficial. This plan should consider the child's needs, school schedules, extracurricular activities, and holidays.

Courts may encourage or require mediation or parenting coordination to facilitate discussions between parents and create a workable parenting plan. Mediators and parenting coordinators can help reduce conflict and ensure the child's best interests are met.

But custody isn’t the only challenge for children during a high-conflict divorce. It is critical for parents to provide additional emotional support as their guardian, reminding them they are still loved and cared for. Emphasize to your children that both parents still care about their well-being, even if they are no longer together. Foster open and honest communication with your children. Allow them to express their feelings and concerns, and reassure them of your love and support.

If your child struggles to cope with the divorce, consider involving a child therapist or counselor. These professionals specialize in helping children navigate the emotional challenges associated with divorce. Maintain consistent routines for your children, including school schedules, extracurricular activities, and bedtime routines. Predictability can provide a sense of stability during a turbulent time.

Finally: Do not involve your children in your disputes or use them as messengers between you and your ex-spouse. This can create unnecessary stress and confusion for the child.

Contact Johnson Law Group High Conflict Divorce Attorneys

High-conflict divorces are challenging for all parties involved. If you are considering divorce and predicting conflict, it is important that you contact an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the process. Our Attorneys at Johnson Law Group have helped countless individuals through the divorce process, and we can help you too. Contact us today at 720-445-4444 to consult with one of our skilled divorce attorneys. We will take the time to listen to your situation and help you make the best decisions for your future while minimizing the potential for conflict.

High-conflict divorces are often long, with prolonged legal proceedings. Due to the inability to resolve issues amicably, high-conflict divorces tend to drag on for an extended period, resulting in increased legal fees and emotional stress. They typically require significant involvement from divorce attorneys and may end up in court for resolution. Because agreements are challenging to maintain, court orders may need to be modified frequently, leading to additional legal proceedings and disputes.

High-conflict divorces also emotionally affect all involved parties, including spouses and children. It can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. Children in high-conflict divorces often experience more emotional distress and may become caught in the crossfire of their parents' disputes. This can significantly affect their well-being if custody orders change or remain in limbo for long periods.

Financial Challenges of a Problematic Divorce

Many of the conflicts in divorce cases stem from financial issues. As soon as divorce proceedings are initiated, get ahead of the curve by gathering all financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, and property records. This will help you understand the extent of your assets and liabilities, which is essential for equitable property division in Illinois.

If you have significant community property or other assets, you should enlist the help of financial advisors or divorce financial analysts specializing in high-conflict divorces. They can assist you in making informed decisions regarding property division, spousal support, and child support. An experienced Illinois high-conflict divorce lawyer can be your greatest asset when dealing with complex financial matters. They will advocate for your rights, ensure compliance with Illinois divorce laws, and help you secure a fair financial settlement.

Your divorce lawyer and financial professionals can help you develop a post-divorce budget that outlines your anticipated expenses and income. This will help you manage the financial challenges of divorce and your finances after proceedings are completed.

It is also important to remember that many of the financial conflicts in a high-conflict divorce aren’t actually about money or assets. These are easy avenues for control. Also, be aware that emotions are often attached to assets like homes and other real estate, which can lead to fights over how these assets are split.

Spousal support is often complicated in case of high-conflict divorce. Spousal support (also known as alimony) may be awarded to help the receiving spouse adjust to single life or maintain their standard of living until they can become self-supporting when the marriage ends. In cases where one spouse significantly out-earns the other, or cases where one spouse has primary or complete custody over children, financial support is also frequently awarded.

Assets During Divorce

It is also extremely important that you are upfront about your assets. Hidden assets can incur legal penalties in the future– in severe cases, fraud charges can be brought against someone who hides assets. Additionally, hiding assets can result in perjury charges if you have signed a financial affidavit. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, your best option is to engage a forensic accountant.

The following signs are often evidence of a spouse attempting to hide assets:

Understanding the techniques used to hide assets can equip you with the necessary tools to detect any financial distinctions. Here are some methods spouses often use:

  • Concealing cash in safe deposit boxes, travelers’ checks, or other places you wouldn’t typically check
  • Transferring money to family members or friends
  • Opening a custodial account and hiding the money under a child’s name
  • Underreporting income or overreporting debts
  • Deferring salary, bonuses, or contracts until after the divorce
  • Purchasing high-value items that can easily be under-appraised or overlooked, like jewelry, art, or antiques

Remember, these actions are unethical and illegal and can carry severe penalties.

If you see this behavior in your spouse before or during your high-conflict divorce, notify your lawyer immediately.

Emotional Challenges of a High-Conflict Divorce

There are many emotional challenges of divorce. It's crucial to seek emotional support from friends, family, or a therapist who can provide a safe space to express your feelings and help you navigate the emotional rollercoaster. However, don’t expect more than support; be aware that your friends may take sides. Consider joining a divorce support group where you can connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Sharing your stories and learning from others can provide valuable insights and a sense of community.

Communicating with a high-conflict spouse is also frequently a problem. Direct communication with your spouse may only exacerbate the conflict in high-conflict divorces. Use your divorce attorney or a mediator as an intermediary to relay important messages whenever possible. Email or written communication can be more effective in high-conflict situations than verbal communication. It allows you to communicate your thoughts and concerns without the immediacy and emotional intensity of face-to-face or phone conversations. It also creates a paper trail and limits the effectiveness of “he-said, she-said” arguments.

Establish clear boundaries with your high-conflict spouse. Be firm but respectful in your interactions, and avoid engaging in arguments or personal attacks. When discussing issues related to your children, prioritize their well-being above all else. Keep their best interests in mind and seek solutions that support their emotional and physical health.

Another important act to consider is your social media channels. We recommend you avoid commenting negatively about your spouse. While this can be extremely difficult, it can also drive further wedges into the relationship– and make things more challenging in litigation.

Protecting Your Children During Conflict

If you have children, it is far too easy to drag them into the proceedings of a high-conflict divorce. This can cause emotional problems for years to come. Even amicable divorces are challenging for children, and the courts know this. Judges always adjudicate with children's best interests in mind, which should be your primary concern as a parent. Getting wrapped up in the acrimony with your partner is easy, but you must always remember to put your children’s needs first.

Child custody arrangements in high-conflict divorces can be emotionally charged and contentious. In Illinois, as in many states, the court's primary consideration is the child's best interests. In high-conflict divorces, creating a detailed parenting plan outlining custody and visitation schedules is often beneficial. This plan should consider the child's needs, school schedules, extracurricular activities, and holidays.

Courts may encourage or require mediation or parenting coordination to facilitate discussions between parents and create a workable parenting plan. Mediators and parenting coordinators can help reduce conflict and ensure the child's best interests are met.

But custody isn’t the only challenge for children during a high-conflict divorce. It is critical for parents to provide additional emotional support as their guardian, reminding them they are still loved and cared for. Emphasize to your children that both parents still care about their well-being, even if they are no longer together. Foster open and honest communication with your children. Allow them to express their feelings and concerns, and reassure them of your love and support.

If your child struggles to cope with the divorce, consider involving a child therapist or counselor. These professionals specialize in helping children navigate the emotional challenges associated with divorce. Maintain consistent routines for your children, including school schedules, extracurricular activities, and bedtime routines. Predictability can provide a sense of stability during a turbulent time.

Finally: Do not involve your children in your disputes or use them as messengers between you and your ex-spouse. This can create unnecessary stress and confusion for the child.

Contact Johnson Law Group High Conflict Divorce Attorneys

High-conflict divorces are challenging for all parties involved. If you are considering divorce and predicting conflict, it is important that you contact an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the process. Our Attorneys at Johnson Law Group have helped countless individuals through the divorce process, and we can help you too. Contact us today at 720-445-4444 to consult with one of our skilled divorce attorneys. We will take the time to listen to your situation and help you make the best decisions for your future while minimizing the potential for conflict.

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OVERBOARD: HOW TO AVOID SINKING
IN YOUR COLORADO FAMILY LAW CASE
Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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