One of the top questions we hear from people during the divorce process is, “How will the relationship be once the divorce is final?” While there are steps you can take to make the transition easier, sometimes you have an ex-partner who just isn’t willing to be reasonable. We call them “high-conflict” exes.
With divorced couples, especially when children are involved, communication can be a real challenge. Sometimes, you may feel like any response you give might be too defensive, or just never quite the right one. Remember, while it takes two to tango, we can never control how someone else acts, only how we act and react.
At The Buncher Law Corporation, Partners Sven Buncher and Lauren Mullee have seen their clients through a number of high conflict situations with compassion. Here is their step-by-step advice on how to communicate with a high-conflict ex-spouse:
Even if you’re being confronted directly, it’s important to keep your composure as much as possible. The moment you lose your cool, you’ll be giving into the reaction your ex-spouse may have been seeking – and it will only escalate things. You might want to take some time and walk away from the conversation for at least a few hours before you respond.
Don’t give your ex-partner any reason or room to quarrel. If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. If you’re co-parenting, solely pass along information and try your best to leave out any personal opinions. Keep your texts and emails to a few sentences only.
“Kill them with kindness” is a saying for a reason. Ending an email or a conversation with a “Have a nice weekend” leaves you an air of detachment while also not returning any confrontational attitude they might be serving your way. Plus, it’s hard for things to get out of hand if one party is always amiable.
While you want to keep up a controlled and sometimes friendly front, this doesn’t mean you should give in to your ex-spouse’s every whim. If you feel strongly on an issue, stand your ground, or ask to speak at a different time once they have had a chance to cool off. It is possible to be friendly and firm. You may need to calmly repeat yourself to get your point across.
Sometimes, ex-spouses aren’t all that interested in civility or how their resentment might impact others. You cannot change that, so instead, look out for yourself. The less emotional ammunition you supply them with, the less they can lash out at you.
Having to expose yourself to the intense emotions and words of an ex-partner can make the divorce process that much more exhausting. But it doesn’t have to be that way! The team at The Buncher Law Corporation has the skills you need to navigate a divorce while facing a high-conflict personality. Our founder Sven Buncher and Partner Lauren Mullee have experience in Family Law, Business Litigation, and Palimony/Marvin Action cases. This unique background and expertise enable them to resolve a multitude of legal issues in a low conflict manner. However, they are not afraid to litigate for their clients when necessary.
If you are facing a high-conflict divorce or have a case you feel might be intertwined with any of our combination of practices, we encourage you to contact us or call our office directly at 949.264.8207.