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High-Conflict Divorces: Definition and How to Handle Them

High-Conflict Divorces: Definition and How to Handle Them

Conflict and divorce often go hand in hand. During the divorce process, you may encounter disagreements with your ex-spouse. In most cases, you and your former partner can learn to work through these disagreements with the help of an attorney.

But some divorces can become especially contentious and, in rare cases, dangerous. Not only does it become difficult to finalize these divorces, but you may require the intervention of the court after your divorce is finalized. These separations can be called high-conflict divorces.

Characteristics of High-Conflict Divorces

No statutory definition sets out what constitutes a high-conflict divorce, nor does Michigan law treat these divorces any differently than other divorces. But high-conflict divorces do share certain characteristics in common, including:

  • Harassing or demeaning behavior from your partner
  • Efforts to delay or obstruct divorce proceedings
  • The unwillingness of your partner to follow court orders
  • Destruction of marital property
  • Your partner alienating your child from you during visitation time

The disagreements, arguments, and confrontations found in high-conflict divorces happen frequently throughout the divorce. Moreover, these conflicts are frequently motivated by a desire to harm you in some way.

What To Do if You Are Caught in a High-Conflict Divorce

If you suspect your divorce will be or has become highly contentious, you should act as soon as possible. The quicker you take action, the better the court and your Michigan divorce attorney will be able to help you get control of the situation.

During your high-conflict divorce, following these tips can help keep you safe and your divorce moving forward:

Only Communicate in Writing

Establish a ground rule and ask the court to enter an order stating that communication should only happen through text, email, or other written forms of communication. While this may not stop your partner from making abusive or harassing comments, it at least creates a record of what is said for law enforcement and the court to review.

Report Violations of Orders and Other Behaviors Promptly

While an occasional and minor violation of a court order may not be worth reporting, it’s best to report your partner if they engage in a repeated pattern of disregarding court orders. Let your attorney know so that these matters can be promptly addressed by the court.

And if you are threatened, assaulted, or feel unsafe in any way, make sure to contact your local law enforcement.

Seek Protective Orders

Where you have a legitimate fear for your safety or that of your child, obtaining personal protection orders from the court that prohibit any contact may be necessary. With these orders in place, you can quickly summon police to help you in the event of an emergency.

Take a Contentious Divorce Seriously

It is natural for emotions to run high occasionally during a divorce. But if your partner’s behavior has crossed the line and become obstructive, harassing, or threatening, it’s crucial to take the matter seriously. Delays in addressing such behavior only encourage the very same behavior further.

An experienced divorce attorney in Southeast Michigan can provide you with critical guidance on whether you are in a high-conflict divorce and what you can do to mitigate it.

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