Most divorces involve some conflict, and it is very rare for couples to agree on all key issues. However, those that are considered ‘high conflict’ are different. A high-conflict divorce usually results from toxic relationship dynamics that were present throughout the marriage. Some common examples include narcissistic, controlling, and abusive behavior from one or both spouses.
High-conflict divorce is inevitably more difficult, both emotionally and practically, and can have a negative impact on children as well as other family members. If you are facing a high-conflict divorce, then it is essential you are supported by an experienced divorce lawyer who has handled cases like yours before and understands the dedication they require.
Woodford Sathappan McGee is the only law firm in the Indianapolis area to exclusively represent women. We are deeply attuned to women’s needs, which gives us a unique ability to support them through even the most challenging and high-conflict divorces.
It is important to know that you have powerful constitutional rights. We will keep you informed throughout the entire legal process and will act as your guide in every negotiation and court action.
We are trained mediators as well as experienced trial lawyers. Many high-conflict cases involve substantial involvement of the divorce court, and we will be your advocate throughout.
The best way to deal with an emotionally abusive spouse is to limit them with boundaries. An experienced high-conflict divorce lawyer will understand how to deal with an abusive party and will not allow them to control the situation.
Attorney Katie Woodford is one of the founding members of Woodford Sathappan McGee and specializes in high-conflict divorce, high-assets, and complex custody cases. She deals with these complex matters on a daily basis and is uniquely prepared to support women through even the most complex cases.
Your divorce decree is legally binding, and how family law matters such as property division, spousal support, child support, and child custody are settled will have a big impact on your future. It is important that an abusive partner is unable to control the situation and that you have the tools you need to protect your rights and secure a stable future.
High-conflict divorces can take many forms. However, there are some common signs to look for. If you do relate to some of these signs, then it’s important you seek out help from an experienced high-conflict divorce lawyer as early in the process as possible.
A few warning signs of a high-conflict divorce include:
Although most divorces involve some level of conflict, a high-conflict divorce involves a lot of emotion and the potential for abuse. Some of the most common issues are:
A contested divorce involves key issues that a couple cannot agree on, such as how property should be divided or what the parenting plan should look like. This is in contrast to an uncontested divorce, where couples can agree on all issues without the need for court involvement.
Although it is common for people to need support negotiating the terms of their divorce decree, in a high-conflict divorce, negotiations break down, or one spouse may refuse to negotiate.
When couples cannot arrive at agreements using mediation, the Judge will rule on their behalf. It is essential that you are represented by an experienced trial attorney who understands how to best represent you in the courtroom.
Indiana is a no-fault divorce state, which means that most marriages end on the grounds that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the relationship.
However, sometimes an at-fault divorce is appropriate. Justifications under Indiana law include:
Filing for an at-fault divorce can create conflict, so the decision should be made with care. However, sometimes it can benefit you as the Judge may consider it when arriving at outcomes for key issues. For example, if your spouse has been convicted of a felony, then it could affect the child custody arrangement.
Physical violence is never acceptable and should be reported to the police. It is common for the abused partner to feel unable to leave, but it is important that you seek legal support as quickly as possible.
Thanks to our dedication to women, we have created a space where they feel supported and safe to share their experiences. We know how difficult it is to make the first steps, but we are here to support and guide you and fight fiercely on your behalf.
The first thing we will do is file for a protection order to keep your spouse away from you and your children. Next, we will work to gather evidence ready to present to the Judge to ensure that they are aware of your experiences and consider them when making judgements in your case.
Emotional abuse is another form of domestic abuse and should be taken seriously. It comes in many forms, and while it usually starts off subtle, it may intensify over time and become very difficult to live with. When a couple finally separates, the emotional abuse often continues and makes negotiations difficult.
Divorcing an emotionally abusive spouse is often emotionally exhausting. It is important you have support from an attorney who specializes in high-conflict divorce. An experienced attorney will ensure that the situation is not controlled by a manipulative spouse and that your rights are protected.
Some signs of emotional abuse include:
Mental illness can sometimes become so severe that it contributes to a divorce becoming high-conflict. You may have been married for a long time before the extent of your partners’ mental illness became apparent, and if they are unwilling to receive professional help, then divorce could be the best option.
People suffering from addiction can be unpredictable, and it can make divorce negotiations very difficult. Therefore, it is essential you seek help from an experienced attorney, especially if you have children.
If one spouse is struggling with alcohol or substance misuse, then the situation may worsen when they are faced with divorce. Their actions could become unstable and potentially dangerous, such as misusing substances around your children. Your attorney will help you file a protection order to keep them away from you and your children if necessary.
People with high-conflict personalities tend to think that constant conflict is normal. They may approach situations as if they are the victim and give themselves permission to act inappropriately.
Someone with a high-conflict personality may be quick to blame others, become quickly offended if you try to confront them, and have little insight into their own destructive behavior.
While most divorcing spouses can arrive at some compromises and resolutions with the help of a professional mediator, a high-conflict individual may be unable or unwilling to do this.
High-conflict personalities tend to have an all-or-nothing attitude and may try to manipulate the situation. When you have the support of an experienced high-conflict divorce lawyer, they will help you retain your power.
When conflict arises from a custody dispute, it can be especially difficult to navigate. One or both spouses may try and use their children to control the situation, which causes inevitable harm to everyone involved.
It is essential that the needs of children are prioritized in every family law matter, and a skilled divorce lawyer will help ensure that happens.
If you believe that you may be the cause of conflict, or contributing to it, then being aware is the first step to making positive change. You should speak with a therapist who can help you identify and change negative behavior patterns.
With the right help, you can unlearn bad habits and begin to communicate more effectively, which will make the divorce process easier for everyone involved. You should also reach out to friends and family who may be able to help you identify and mitigate your bad habits.
You should also have support from an attorney who will be honest with you and will tell you when you are acting inappropriately. These conversations are challenging, but with the right help, you can begin to move forward.
If you are facing a high-conflict divorce, then it is essential you reach out to a high-conflict divorce attorney as soon as possible. It is imperative that you have legal representation from someone who has experience in high-conflict cases so that they can take appropriate measures to protect your rights and well-being.
Other than ensuring you have the right representation, there are additional things you can do to help protect yourself. It is important to maintain boundaries and to be clear on what your goals are so that it becomes difficult for your ex-spouse to manipulate you.
For example, perhaps it is important that you keep the marital home; you should be clear on why you have a right to it so that you can maintain your stance in negotiations.
Here is some advice on how to deal with your ex-spouse to minimize conflict.
Maintaining boundaries can be incredibly difficult. It involves defining your limits, communicating openly with people, and being able to say no.
Remember, you do not need to stay in the argument; you can turn off your phone or walk away. You are not responsible for their emotions, and although you cannot control their behavior, you can begin to control how you respond to it.
A high-conflict divorce is exceptionally stressful, so it is important that you prioritize self-care as much as possible. This may involve speaking with a coach or therapist or confiding in friends and family. You should also try to make time for relaxing or fun activities when you can.
If your spouse is manipulative or abusive, then you should try and recognize their behavior and the impact it has on you. They may try and invoke sympathy, gaslight you, or threaten you. When you recognize this manipulative behavior, you could point it out to them or just walk away.
Divorce is always difficult for minor children. However, high-conflict divorces are even more challenging for everyone involved, including children. You can help protect them by:
Indiana law always prioritizes the needs of children above all else. In most cases, that means formulating a parenting plan that keeps both parents in the child’s life. Although you may believe that your ex-spouse should not be granted time with your ex-spouse, the court may not agree.
A difficult spouse does not always create a bad parent. Therefore, you should try and keep things amicable when it comes to your children and facilitate court-ordered visitation at all times.
The only time that a parent will lose their rights to their child is if you can prove that they pose a risk to their wellbeing. For example, if they have been abusive to your children or are misusing drugs or alcohol to the extent that it poses a danger.
In Indiana, if parents are in disagreement over their custody arrangement, they may require parenting coordination with the help of a trained professional known as a parenting coordinator.
Indiana is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property must be divided in a just and fair way. If your spouse was abusive, then the Judge may consider this when deciding what that means.
Yes, couples may choose to legally separate in Indiana. A legal separation is where a couple stays married but separate and seek out court orders on things like child custody and property division.
A couple may choose legal separation because they hope to reconcile one day for religious reasons or to maintain health insurance. However, there are important implications to consider, and you should discuss your case with a family law attorney before making your decision.
An uncontested divorce could be over in a matter of months. However, a high-conflict divorce will inevitably take much longer. Negotiations take more time, and you may have to wait for the court to be available to hear various aspects of your case. It could, therefore, take up to two years.
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we represent women in family law matters in Ohio and Indiana exclusively. We believe that this narrow focus gives us a clear advantage when it comes to supporting women through high-conflict divorce.
We are skilled mediators and tested trial lawyers, and our holistic approach allows us to advocate for your best interests at every stage. We have a passion for empowering women to move forward with their lives feeling secure and confident.
Contact our law firm today at 380-212-3731 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced high-conflict divorce attorney.