Marriages that include a high conflict personality almost always end in divorce. It seems quite rare when it doesn’t and what makes it hard to watch is when the marriage has lasted for a long period of time. I have seen people get divorces after 15, 20, even 30 years or more. When people are young they seem to have the energy and ability to push through the tough times and work towards a more stable future. But high conflict personalities seem to get worse over time, they seem to get more angry and confrontational as they get older and relationships aren’t meant to endure extended periods of instability and toxicity.
It is possible for the relationships to improve but this usually takes a lot of work and can be an extremely difficult and slow process. If you’re divorcing a high conflict personality, here are some thing that you should know before initiating the divorce process. You will need to anticipate these things in hopes of working through them in a quicker and easier fashion. Here is what you can expect from them:
For them to go out of their way to make everything difficult – Many high conflict personalities even tell their soon to be ex spouses that they are going to go to great lengths to make the process as miserable and difficult as possible. It would be inadvisable to assume that they are looking to compromise and find workable solutions. It would be advisable to expect them to drag everything out.
For them to turn your kids against you – If you had children together, you can expect them to talk bad about you to your kids and convince them that you are the bad guy and some kind of monster. Parent alienation is, unfortunately, very real. They may be successful in this, especially if the kids are young when the divorce is initiated. There are ways to deal with this but it may get worse before it gets better. Along with this, you can also expect them to…
Use the kids as weapons to gain leverage – And unfortunately, this can have a serious detrimental effect on the kids. They can get thrown under the bus. Even though I don’t always think that this is the intention of the high conflict personalities, they usually lack the perspective to recognize that their behavior and decisions are causing harm to their children.
Mediation will likely fail – I have honestly yet to encounter a case where mediation with a high conflict personality had a positive and fair outcome. Keep in mind that compromise is not their goal. Courts send many couples to mediation as a way of following due diligence. If you have kids, it is likely that the court will bring in a custody evaluator to sort things out.
For them to violate the divorce decree – This is especially true for parental time and split custody. It is extremely common for them to overstep these limits and ignore what has been documented by the court. If they are not held accountable to these violations, they will continue to happen.
A smear campaign against you – You can expect the high conflict personality to put all your dirty laundry out to dry. They will put it out in front of lawyers, judges, therapists, etc. If you had a tendency to drink a lot, shop a lot or lose your temper, you can bet they will not only put it out there but they will embellish it in an attempt to paint you in a very bad light.
Suffice to say that when you divorce a high conflict personality, you can expect a difficult road with lots of dirty play. They don’t do well when a divorce happens; they usually become more angry and create more conflict. It would be inadvisable to expect them to want a smooth, civil divorce. Especially if you have had kids with them. Some people avoided hiring an attorney because they want the process to be non-conflictual. This is ill advised. An attorney will help you through the court process and help keep you from getting creamed. It doesn’t have to be this ugly, solutions are out there and sometimes it’s a matter of finding the right people that can help you in the right way. If you don’t retrain the relationship with the high conflict personality, the divorce and aftermath can get ugly. I can help you make those steps, I hope you will give me the opportunity to share my accountability shifting methods with you to help make the divorce process smoother for you and your kids.