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Divorcing a High-Conflict Personality

By Leslie Fineberg on March 7, 2013

Therapists want us to get in touch with our true feelings.  Their goal is to help us become self-assured and self-aware in order to remove ourselves from poisonous relationships and discover what we truly want out of life.  According to Virginia Gilbert, MFT, licensed family and marriage therapist, in an article published in The Huffington Post, knowledgeable marriage therapists can help us to find our voice and improve our quality of life.

How could this type of personal awareness and growth be dangerous?  It could be dangerous in a high-conflict divorce especially when children are present in the marriage.  Marriage therapists working with partners, who are divorcing narcissists, need to invert the traditional goal of therapy. Expressing true feelings, being self-aware, and being apologetic can be terrible mistakes in a high-conflict divorce.

Ms. Gilbert offers the following five tips for getting through a divorce with a high-conflict personality:

  • Avoid contact—high-conflict personalities live for the battle itself.  They create drama.  They love to put you down around your children, particularly.  They will bully online, through text messages, phone calls, anyway they can.  Drop off or pick up the children in neutral places like schools to avoid conflicts.
  • Do not show anger— becoming emotional is bound to invite more attacks.
  • Do not expect your partner to move on—Well-adjusted partners move on.  High-conflict personalities never grow tired of the battle. Expect lies in court.  Document hateful E-mails.  Keep a record of each violation of court orders.
  • Separate parenting—you must separate your own parenting from that of your former spouse.  Consider this parallel parenting, not co-parenting.
  • Never admit you are wrong.  Apologizing does not work with a high-conflict personality.

At Nottage and Ward, our Chicago divorce attorneys focus on divorce and family law—nothing else.  We understand the challenge of divorcing a high-conflict partner as well as the impact divorce with this type of person can have on your children.  Call us at (312) 332-2915 or use our online contact form to set up an initial meeting.

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