Usually when I talk about divorce with a lot of conflict, I’m referring to situations where one of the parent’s is a high conflict individual who is sometimes an individual with a personality disorder. I’ve written a lot of articles on these types of divorces and tips on navigating them. But what about high conflict divorces in which the two parent’s aren’t high conflict individuals? What about when two reasonable people have their lives shredded and despite the best efforts by both people, the divorce and custody battle gets ugly? Regular, low-conflict people can find themselves in a high conflict divorce and custody battle. Feelings get hurt, people feel betrayed and devastated, they act out of self-preservation and before they know it, they are neck deep in attorneys, court dates, court petitions, mediations and custody evaluations.
Many divorced people have found themselves in a waking divorce court nightmare. People find themselves thousands in debt with no end in sight. Attorneys can charge up to three hundred dollars an hour and mediators run about the same rate. Custody evaluations can cost upwards of ten thousand dollars or more when it’s all said and done. Meanwhile, the kids involved are falling behind, getting pulled back and forth and absorbing the consequences of a set of choices that had little or nothing to do with them.
Instead, consider high conflict divorce counseling. When people work with me, my first and most important goal is to ensure the well being of the kids. People aren’t as objective and unbiased as they think they are and my goal is to provide that objective and unbiased perspective which is coupled with years and years of experience. Let’s be honest, divorced parents are often emotionally compromised and struggle to know what truly is best for their children now that the family has been divided. I find that parent’s consider what they want personally as being the same as what is good for their children but this is rarely true. Parent’s, regardless of what the divorced situation looks like, should seek to achieve what is good for their children separate from what they personally want. My goal is to help ensure that is what happens.
Another one of my goals is to reduce and resolve conflict so that the parents can create a more sustainable and stable co-parenting relationship. I prefer not to spend a lot of time on individual issues such as scheduling doctor appointments, arranging pick ups and so on. I prefer to help parents create a workable relationship so that they can successfully compromise and work these things out on their own. My approach when doing this is to work to re-establish enough trust between two people who probably feel betrayed and resentful in the aftermath of their divorce.
My third goal is to help people reach a good enough resolution so that they are able to settle out of court. Most of all, my goal is to help people avoid a custody evaluation. They are long, they are expensive, they tend to have a negative effect on the kids and they aren’t guaranteed to bring custody to a finality. Ultimately, I think it’s important to understand and remember that the more your court case escalates, the more likely it is to trickle down and have detrimental effects on the children.
I also want to talk a little bit about what high conflict counseling is not. When people work with me, they will not find a professional that takes sides or backs them up in court. I hold both parents accountable for the areas that they need to improve in. I also do not make any custody recommendations or is intended to substitute a custody evaluation. I also prefer to avoid past issues or work to resolve problems from the past unless it’s relevant to the current situation or the well being of the children involved. I prefer to look ahead and work to turn over a new leaf on the future.
In order for me to work with people in high conflict counseling, I just ask for both people to be willing to attend and participate and willing to consider making some changes on behalf of what is better for the children involved. If this is something that you are interested, give me a call or shoot me an email.