Getting divorced is never easy, even when both parties have committed to being peaceable. But when one member of the couple is engaging in extreme or narcissistic behavior, or refusing to negotiate reasonably or control their emotions, then divorce goes from being tough to traumatic.
As experienced divorce lawyers in Singapore, we’ve navigated numerous high-conflict divorces and understand how devastating it is for the families involved. We’ve seen how one party may subject the other to daily hostility, severely restrict contact with the children, or otherwise try to emotionally or financially manipulate the other person.
We’ve seen it all. And we know the consequences. Studies show that children in the midst of high-conflict divorces are more likely to suffer emotionally and academically, years after the divorce has been finalized. The parties to the divorce, often having drained their savings on legal fees, frequently have trouble starting their new life on secure financial footing.
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If you’re caught in a high-conflict divorce, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and minimize the fallout. Take a look at our 5 tips:
1. Stay Calm: This may seem like an impossible task in such a toxic situation, but keeping a level head even as your former spouse rages is essential to preserving your mental health and that of those around you, especially your children. Try not to react defensively or explode in anger because high-conflict personalities feed on your emotions and use them to intensify the situation. Whenever possible, just walk away from circumstances where your spouse is trying to kindle conflict. When that is not possible, use breathing techniques to help you stay calm until you can exit the situation.
2. Get an Experienced Divorce Lawyer: Divorce lawyers who are skilled in high-conflict divorce know how to stand up to difficult personalities with sufficient aggression to get the results you need but without the emotion that heightens drama or leads to trial. A talented divorce lawyer will also fully investigate any accusations your spouse has made against you, protect you against misleading or false allegations, put in place an effective strategy, and will keep you focused on your goals and smart decision-making, even when your emotions are running high.
3. Check Yourself: Sometimes there’s only one unreasonable party in a high-conflict divorce; sometimes there are two. Throughout the divorce process, keep assessing your own behavior to be certain that you’re not creating needless conflict or rejecting proposals from your ex-spouse simply because you’re angry. It may feel good to “get back” at your spouse, but in reality you’re just prolonging a painful process and hurting yourself and your family.
4. Seek Emotional Support: Don’t hesitate to seek counseling, divorce coaching services and other emotional support before, during and after your divorce. Family and friends can provide the right encouragement, but they can sometimes hurt more than help by giving bad advice or by comparing your divorce experience to theirs. Better to find a divorce support group or a counselor/coach specializing in divorce. Your divorce lawyer is likely to have a suitable recommendation.
5. Protect Your Children: Children may be last on this list, but they should come first in your life. No matter how angry you are with your former spouse, never put the children in the middle of your conflict. That means, even if it makes your blood boil, stick to visitation schedules, notify and invite your spouse to school events, and avoid saying bad things about their parent. It may be painful to do this, but keeping life as normal as possible for them will give them the best chance at having a happy, successful future.