High-conflict divorces can be extremely difficult, but there are ways you can protect yourself. If you don’t feel safe when filing for divorce or during the divorce process, consider taking these steps:
- File a Personal Protection Order (known in many states as a “PPO.”) Even if a judge does not grant the order, it can help because it becomes part of the divorce filings, which are public record. Please note that after a certain number of years, PPO orders can be expunged from the pleadings. If after that you still find yourself under threat: disengage, seek safety, and if the behavior continues, you can file another PPO. Presenting as much evidence as possible to the judge can increase your chances that they will grant the order.
- Hire an attorney who will advocate for you and your specific needs. Not all attorneys are trained to represent people in high-conflict divorces, which requires a unique set of interpersonal and professional skills. Ensure that your attorney has experience in this area. Keep in mind that the other party is likely to have their own advocate.
- Have your attorney handle all matters with the other party’s attorney and inquire about the possibility of avoiding mediation altogether. Although mediation can be a helpful tool in many cases, it is worth discussing with your attorney whether it is right for your case.
- Prioritize your safety and document all interactions with the other party. Disclose all activity you encounter with the other party to your attorney.
- Seek emotional counseling to manage and heal. Divorce is difficult even in the best of cases. If you are going through a high-conflict divorce, you need emotional strength and resilience to get through it, especially if you have children.
- Remember that you are divorcing your partner, not your children, so you are and will remain responsible for their physical and emotional wellbeing. Seeking and having a strong support system is crucial in getting through the difficulties in a high-conflict divorce.
Divorce is devastating, especially when children are involved. Significant conflict between the parties makes things even harder. Unfortunately, domestic violence is not uncommon, but resources are available to those who need them.