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How to Deal with High-Conflict Personalities in a Divorce

What You Should Know When Divorcing a High-Conflict Personality or Narcissistic Personality Spouse

High-conflict personalities are people with known behavioral issues or have a history of problematic relationships with others. Unsurprisingly, divorcing someone who is predisposed to conflict can complicate the separation, making it more contentious or longer than you may expect.

The good news is that there are strategies you can apply when divorcing a high-conflict spouse.

Plan Your Divorce Carefully

A divorce of this nature cannot be done haphazardly. Before filing, make sure you have all the necessary paperwork ready, including personal documents and photos of your assets. You should also secure assets acquired before the marriage as these are considered separate property under Texas law.

Next, consider how to break the news to your spouse. There are no hard and fast rules here, but it is always a good idea to let your intentions be known slowly rather than surprise your spouse with the divorce papers.

Set Realistic Expectations but be Firm

During the divorce proceedings, be sure to set realistic expectations taking into account your spouse’s personality.

Providing a bit of leeway when setting dates for meetings or mediation, for example, can be an effective show of good faith. At the same time, however, you should not allow your spouse to renege on agreements or ignore dates your attorneys have already agreed on. Don’t allow your spouse to manipulate or gaslight you into making the divorce more complicated than it should be.

Accept that Your Spouse’s Behavior Isn’t Going to Change

You shouldn’t expect your spouse’s problematic behavior to change in the middle of the divorce. The fact that your relationship arrived at this point means that you see separation as the only option left. If you see a divorce as a way to convince your spouse to change, you may end up being manipulated into canceling the case, only to end up being hurt and abused once more.

Don’t be Baited into a Fight

High-conflict spouses thrive in fights. They see it as an opportunity to manipulate their partner, or worse, pin the blame of the failed marriage on them. The last thing you want is to be baited into a conflict because this does nothing to change the outcome. If anything, it will only make your case weaker, which could have disastrous consequences if children are involved.

For example, your spouse may egg you into a fight and secretly record your conversations, editing it to twist the context of the conflict. Unfortunately, this is legal in Texas. Evidence of fights on text messages and social media can also be used as evidence in court.

Don’t Shut Your Spouse Out

While a high-conflict spouse presents a number of challenges during a divorce, you should still involve them in the settlement. After all, a cooperative high-conflict spouse is still better than an uncooperative spouse with no issues. Getting your spouse to participate in negotiations over custody and property will help resolve the case faster, which is what you should be aiming in addition to getting an outcome in your favor.

If you have more questions about divorce in Texas you would like to ask a qualified divorce attorney about, get in touch with Austin family law attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today at (512) 215-5225, or use our contact form to schedule a consultation about your case.

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