A divorce is frequently an emotional and stressful process, so some level of conflict is normal and expected. However, some divorces have significant levels of conflict between spouses that make a divorce case drag out, eliminate negotiated agreements, and harm the mental well-being of the entire family. These are often called high-conflict divorces, and they only add to the stress of the divorce process. Having a Kansas City divorce attorney by your side can help ease some of this stress.

High-conflict divorces are particularly difficult when a couple has children and their conflict extends to disagreements about custody. High-conflict divorces can be very hard on children, and they can make it difficult or impossible for parents to manage a co-parenting arrangement. It’s crucial that your attorney has the necessary experience and understanding of these complex cases to provide you with effective legal support.

Understanding a High-Conflict Divorce

Calling a divorce a high-conflict divorce is a broad term that can refer to many complicated issues. A high-conflict divorce can range from interpersonal issues that prevent spouses from coming to any agreement to very serious legal accusations. High-conflict divorces typically are handled through the court, and they can be long and costly as a result. These divorces are especially complicated when a couple has children, and custody is a crucial aspect of divorce proceedings.

A divorce may be considered a high-conflict one for many reasons, including:

  • Spouses cannot agree or cooperate on any matter.
  • Spouses have very different wishes for important aspects like property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support, so they refuse to compromise.
  • Many court dates are needed, as agreements cannot be found.
  • There are serious actions, like parental alienation, that place children in the middle of the conflict.
  • Spouses stalk or harass each other outside of court proceedings.
  • One or both spouses attempt to hide assets.
  • Either spouse has a serious criminal history.
  • There are serious allegations of actions, like severe substance misuse, domestic violence, child abuse, and other situations, that endanger a spouse and any children.

Every divorce is unique, and high-conflict divorces can be spurred by one uncooperative spouse or by the actions of both spouses. It’s important to understand what is in your control during a divorce and how you can mitigate conflict or its effect on you and your children.

Mitigating Conflict in a Divorce

If you are in a high-conflict divorce, you typically can only control your behavior and how you respond to your spouse. Mitigating conflict as much as you can is beneficial for you and your family. Some of the ways that you can do this include:

Setting Boundaries

Creating boundaries that limit when and how you talk with your spouse is important, particularly for your own mental health. This may include scheduling when you and your spouse communicate and finding the right method of communication that limits conflict. It also includes determining methods for resolving conflict before bringing it to court. Setting these boundaries is also useful if you and your spouse will need to communicate after a divorce to co-parent.

Maintaining Neutral Communication

When you do communicate with your spouse for necessary issues, keep discussions neutral, brief, and on topic. Try not to react emotionally, and provide the information that is needed before ending the conversation.

Securing a Support Network

Your support network includes supportive friends, family members, and professional help, like an attorney, mediator, or mental health professional. A divorce is stressful, especially when it is contentious, and these frustrations need to be discussed with people you trust. However, they need to be kept away from public or professional spaces.

Keeping Kids Out of Conflict

If you have children, especially young children, it’s important to keep them away from the conflict. This especially means that you should not talk badly about your spouse to your children. If there are important things that your children need to know about the divorce, determine how to approach that with the aid of professionals.


Q: How Do You Handle a High-Conflict Divorce?

A: How to handle a high-conflict divorce will vary between situations, but there are some steps you can take to limit conflict, including:

  • Keep communication between you and your spouse limited and respectful.
  • Avoid being pulled into arguments.
  • Focus on the interests of your children and family.
  • Keep children out of the conflict between you and your spouse.
  • Build a support network with friends, family members, and counseling professionals.
  • Work with a divorce attorney who has experience with high-conflict divorces.

Q: What Percentage of Divorce Is High Conflict?

A: Between 20% and 25% of divorces have high levels of conflict between spouses, with 10% of parents having a significant enough level of conflict to mean that children should not have contact with their non-custodial parent. It is important to be aware that how a high-conflict divorce is defined varies significantly. A divorce may be considered high-conflict for some of the following reasons:

  • The inability of parents to communicate
  • Significant disagreements over essential divorce aspects
  • Mental health disorders, including substance abuse disorders
  • Domestic abuse and violence

Q: How Can You Deal With a High-Conflict Co-Parent?

A: How you can deal with a high-conflict co-parent will vary based on the unique relationship and custody arrangement you have. Some tips for making co-parenting easier include:

  • Having a clear and detailed parenting plan
  • Determining low-conflict methods of communication
  • Focusing on your children’s needs

If conflict between you and your co-parent impacts your ability to care for your children or otherwise impacts your children, co-parenting may not be the right custody arrangement for your family. Options like parallel parenting may be beneficial to consider.

Q: What Happens to Children of High-Conflict Divorce?

A: Children of high-conflict divorces can often be negatively affected. Every family is unique, and children react to divorces differently, even when parents work to be cooperative and amicable. When children see high levels of conflict during a divorce, it can make the emotional and psychological effects of the process worse, negatively affecting their relationships with one or both parents. It can even affect a child’s other relationships in their life and result in school and life adjustment issues.

Navigating a Divorce With a Contentious Spouse

When you and your spouse are unable to work together, this often limits your options for the divorce process. An attorney at Stange Law Firm can help you navigate these divorces and protect your rights during such proceedings. Contact our team today.