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Four missteps that make high-conflict divorces more contentious

Most divorces involve conflict, but some are especially contentious. Fights might erupt at every stage of the conflict, and parties may not be able to have any conversation without one or both people getting angry.

In these situations, it is easy to get caught up in the fighting and lose sight of the ultimate goal of securing a fair outcome. To avoid this, you can steer clear of common missteps that make a divorce more contentious.

  1. Badmouthing your ex online - It might feel satisfying to talk negatively about your ex or the divorce process on social media, but understand that your statements could come back to haunt you if your ex or the courts see what you said. Instead of sharing these emotions and thoughts online, consider keeping such statements off these sites until after the divorce or choose to share your private thoughts only with a therapist or close friends.
  2. Not showing up on time - Whether you are attending mediation or exchanging custody of your kids, being late or failing to show up at all could be a costly mistake. Not only does it give your ex time and opportunity to get mad, it can also lead to accusations that you are not taking court orders or processes seriously.
  3. Putting your kids in the middle - High-conflict divorces can be especially painful for your children, so it is crucial that you prioritize their best interests. As this article recommends, don't fight in front of them; be there for them; don't make them feel like they should be unhappy when they are with the other parent. 
  4. Responding to provocation - Your ex likely knows all the buttons to push to get a response from you. Rather than engage when he or she is trying to get a rise out of you, step away from the situation. Think carefully about how and if you should respond. Avoid heated text messages exchanges and take at least 24 hours before responding to non-emergency e-mails. In some cases, it might be necessary to have your attorney respond on your behalf.

It may not be realistic to avoid all conflict during a divorce, but taking these steps could prevent some fights and reduce opportunities for conflict.

No matter how contentious your divorce may be, understand that you will get through this. And by avoiding costly missteps and working with an attorney to pursue a fair outcome, you can be better positioned for the next chapter.

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