How can I prevent my divorce from becoming high conflict?

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The end of a marriage can be an extremely confusing, stressful and highly emotional event. In order to make decisions that are within your control and in your best interest, minimizing conflict is essential. The following are some strategies for navigating the divorce process with a minimum of conflict.

Focus your attention on the things that you can control and minimize contact with your spouse. It is not uncommon for one spouse to exhibit unpleasant behavior towards the other spouse during a divorce. While your natural instinct may be to defend yourself, trying to change someone else’s behavior and engaging in a response is usually a futile attempt and it can often cause more frustration and aggravation. Unless your spouse is engaging in behaviors that cause you to feel unsafe, you should not engage with your spouse when he or she is acting this way. Instead, make sure to focus your attention on the things that are the most important to you, such as your children, protecting your rights in the divorce, and your mental and physical health. If you have children and are thus required to communicate with your spouse on a regular basis, keep your communications strictly about their care and best interests.

If not doing so already, consider beginning regular sessions with a qualified therapist. When parties separate or divorce, they can experience difficulty communicating with their spouse. A qualified and experienced therapist can help to improve your communication skills, gain a better understanding of the dynamics that are at play between you and your spouse that lead to conflict, and help you design strategies for preventing and reducing conflict. A therapist can also help you to process many of the negative emotions that you may be feeling in a constructive way.  

Do not lose sight of the forest for the trees. Oftentimes, parties in a divorce get caught up arguing over small issues that do not have a bearing on the overall outcome of their case. It can be difficult for some individuals to face the fact that they will not be able to get everything they want from their divorce. It can be easy for divorcing spouses to get preoccupied in arguing over who gets the dishes in the kitchen versus the china in the china cabinet when they should be focused on the most efficient way to divide their retirement accounts. To keep what is important to you in perspective, you should make a list of realistic goals for you and your attorney to focus on achieving. Then, when an issue arises, you should ask yourself if fighting about it will help you accomplish your ultimate goals.  

Hiring an experienced litigator to represent you in your divorce can be another way to reduce conflict. As mentioned above, you cannot control how your spouse conducts themselves during your divorce. An experienced litigator can offer a handful of legal strategies that can help to reduce conflict if your spouse becomes aggressive.   

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