Virtually every divorce involves some conflict. Even if you and your spouse both agree that it’s time to end your marriage, the two of you are likely not over the emotional impact of the issues behind that decision. You also might disagree who is most to blame. Plus, money and child custody can come between even the most well-meaning divorcing couple. Then there are the spouses determined to fight their ex over every little thing, even if it makes the divorce process drag out far longer — and cost far more — than it needs to.
If you suspect your spouse is going to turn your divorce into a contentious legal battle, there are steps you can take to deal with their hostile and destructive tactics, protecting your legal and parental interests in the process. Here are five steps to consider.
- Define your goals positively. Instead of focusing on what you don’t want to happen based on fear, figure out what you want out of your divorce with a positive mindset. For example, “I want the children to have a stable living situation” instead of “I don’t want my ex to be able to change the custody arrangement whenever she wants.”
- Define your boundaries. Explain what you want so that your ex clearly understands your reasons and why they are important for your family.
- Discuss consequences. Make it clear what will happen if your ex ignores your boundaries.
- Focus on what you can control. Boundaries aside, you cannot necessarily predict or control your ex’s behavior. But you can control how you act. If your ex becomes difficult or tries baiting you, minimize actions that rely on their good faith.
- Follow through. If your ex will not respect your boundaries, follow through on the consequences you explained to them.
Also, working with a divorce attorney who regularly deals with high-conflict divorces can help you navigate these challenges, keep emotional strife and stress in check and deliver a reasonable outcome.