Divorce is rarely an easy process, but when one of the parties involved has a high conflict personality, it can become an emotional rollercoaster. High conflict personalities can create a hostile environment, leading to increased disputes and challenges during the divorce process.
Understanding the High Conflict Personality Type
A high conflict personality is someone who possesses a strong need to be right and often exhibits control issues. The term “narcissistic personality” has also become a buzz word to describe such individuals. They tend to see the world in black and white, where they are always right, and everyone else is wrong. They have a “my way or the highway” mentality. This mindset inevitably leads to frequent conflicts and challenges in negotiations.
Managing a Divorce Involving a High Conflict Party
When a high conflict personality is the opposing party, you need to remain composed and objective. Their tendencies often reveal themselves during temporary hearings or discovery disputes, making it easier to identify the type of personality you are dealing with. In such instances, the court can step in to handle the situation.
However, things become more challenging when the other party’s attorney is a high conflict personality. They tend to take things personally and may attack your client directly, making negotiations much more emotionally charged and hostile than necessary. In such cases, it is vital to focus on the facts, maintain professionalism, and avoid personal confrontations.
Addressing High Conflict Behaviors
In my experience, one effective way to diffuse high conflict behaviors is to involve the judge when necessary. Presenting the issue to the court and filing motions for sanctions can help control and manage the problematic behavior during contested litigation cases.
Another practical approach is to document everything in writing. This prevents misinterpretations or intentional misrepresentations of past conversations. Insisting on written communication also minimizes the risk of insulting or offensive interactions that may occur during phone calls. I tell my clients not to talk on the phone unless it is absolutely necessary because they won’t have a tangible record of the conversation. Often, co-parenting apps such as Our Family Wizard or AppClose help moderate and document the communications.
The Financial Impact
Dealing with a high conflict personality, whether it is the other client or their attorney, often leads to an increase in legal expenses. Addressing side matters, enforcing compliance, and resolving disputes consume additional time and resources, ultimately translating into higher legal fees for the client.
Court Ordered Counseling
Requesting that counseling be ordered sometimes helps. A judge will automatically require parties who have children to attend a parenting class, but there are other counselors who specialize in high conflict cases and co-parenting counseling which can be an ongoing process and solution. Additionally, there are parenting coordinators/facilitators who act as intermediaries between the parties, and they are often very helpful.
Navigating a high conflict divorce can be emotionally taxing. Recognizing their behavior and employing effective management strategies is vital for a successful outcome. If you find yourself facing such a challenging situation, remember that you don’t have to go through it alone. Seeking guidance from an experienced family law attorney can make a significant difference.
For More Information Contact an Experienced Dallas Family Law Attorney
To schedule a free initial consultation with a Dallas Family Law Attorney, contact Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices at 214-420-1800. Our office is located at 2911 Turtle Creek Blvd., Suite 300, Dallas, TX 75219.