What is a High-Conflict Divorce?
Some divorcing couples in California can dissolve their marriage amicably or with divorce mediation assistance. However, some spouses have reached a point where they can no longer stand the sight of each other and quickly become involved in a high-conflict situation and can't reach a mutual agreement on anything.
Since the term “divorce” is essentially a series of compromises where you won't generally receive everything you want, this hostile environment creates a significant problem in the dissolution of a marriage.
In other words, when you get caught up in the high-conflict drama when attempting to go through the California divorce process, meaning everything is a fight, you are stressed out and face long and expensive divorce proceedings that end in litigation. Thus, negotiations in a high-conflict divorce are challenging, but some options might help.
Suppose your marriage was always non-confrontational. In that case, it does not always mean emotions won't take over when couples divorce, especially when children are involved. You may find yourself in a battle, even over seemingly minor issues.
Conservation that started friendly quickly becomes heated with insults. Some of the most common signs that you are entering into the dreaded territory of a high-conflict divorce include the following:
- All communications with spouse turn into a fight;
- Deceit and a willingness to argue over everything;
- Justifying adultery and unfaithfulness;
- Playing the victim card or the blame game;
- Spouses refuse to compromise on anything;
- A strong desire to seek revenge on your spouse;
- Negative social media posts about their spouse;
- Opening fighting when their children are present;
- Parents criticizing each other in front of the kids;
- Controlling behavior or domestic violence;
- Violating various court orders;
- Hiding assets to prevent other spouse from accessing them.
Of significant note are the challenges going forward if a spouse decides to use the children in a custody battle just to get perceived revenge on the other. Let's review this subject in greater detail below.
How Can a Family Law Attorney Help in a High-Conflict Divorce?
Some people will delay getting a divorce because they know it might turn into a high-conflict situation, but sometimes a delay is no longer possible, and now is the time to move forward.
When that time arrives, there are ways to get assistance through the California divorce proceedings by retaining a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS). In this way, you can start to set boundaries and minimize conflict to help finalize the divorce.
Most people know that a divorce can become ugly and bring out the worse in people. One of the main reasons couples get divorced is that they no longer get along with each other, meaning compromise is challenging or impossible.
This is where an experienced California family law lawyer can help you. If you have a high-conflict divorce, also known as a “contested divorce,” you should retain legal representation to protect your legal rights and negotiate on your behalf.
However, you must understand that a contested divorce could result in a lengthy and costly battle in a family courtroom. It means you and your attorney will likely be facing your spouse's lawyer to essentially fight over the terms you seek in a divorce trial. Some strategies in a high-conflict divorce include the following:
- Focus on your child's best interest;
- Limit conservation subjects with your spouse;
- Avoid emotionally charged topics;
- Refuse to engage in an argument;
- Set boundaries and stick to them;
- Keep divorce negotiations moving forward.
Of note is that a high-conflict divorce rarely has easy answers. The suggestions above are much easier said than done, but keeping the negotiations on track and moving forward will typically result in a faster resolution.
What is a Certified Family Law Specialist?
A Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) is a family law attorney certified by the California Board of Legal Specialization, the State Bar, or a similar organization with a certification program.
To acquire this certification, the lawyer has to go well beyond the standard licensing requirements by doing the following:
- Continuing their education in family law;
- Passing a written examination in this specialty;
- Have comprehensive experience in family law; and
- Obtain a favorable evaluation by a panel of attorneys and peers.
Simply put, having a CFLS can be crucial during a high-conflict divorce case. They possess the knowledge and skills to think of creative solutions to severe divorce challenges, such as child custody, spousal support, and complicated property division issues.
A Certified Family Law Specialist knows how to effectively negotiate with your spouse during mediation to prevent your divorce from going to trial. However, in a situation where your case ends up in a court trial, a CFLS can provide superior representation.
How Long Does It Take to Resolve a High-Conflict Divorce?
Suppose you are involved in an uncontested divorce where you and your spouse can reach a mutual agreement on all of the terms of the divorce, and it doesn't have to go to trial.
This includes drafting a divorce settlement agreement and developing a parenting plan. In that case, the family court judge will approve and finalize the divorce as long as you have met the six-month waiting period.
On the flip side of an uncontested divorce is a high-conflict divorce, which is often a lengthy and costly court battle that usually ends up in a trial, which is a public record for anyone to see.
Simply put, a high-conflict divorce can take many months or, in severe cases, even years of conferences, mediation, and hearings. But, how long it takes to resolve will depend on the specific case details.
It's almost always in your best interest to get a divorce on friendly terms, especially if kids are involved. A quick golden rule to remember is that when there are children in a divorce, it's not about you. All family courts must make decisions based on the children's best interests.
There are signs and red flags to recognize a potential high-conflict divorce early, which can help you prepare for the upcoming legal process.
Contact our Certified Family Law Specialists to review the details of your divorce case and discuss your goals. A high-conflict divorce in California is challenging, but there are some steps you can take to get through it. We offer a free case evaluation via phone or contact form. Furman & Zavatsky are Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys.