Minimizing Communications with Your High-Conflict Ex

There are many excellent reasons why you should minimize contact with your high-conflict ex-spouse/ex-partner. In brief, “low-contact” strategies can improve your overall physical health and well-being, your mental health and well-being, and legally it’s a sound decision that can prevent you from making critical mistakes that can quickly scuttle a solid effort to gain meaningful child custody time with your children. While the FDA hasn’t studied the true health effects of low-contact on one’s physical or mental well-being, it’s important to note that reducing such stressors in your life can have significant health benefits.

It’s true that high-conflict personalities and personality disorders drive much of family court litigation. Those not determined to destroy their targets at any cost are turning to “friendlier” divorces and child custody arrangements such as mediation, negotiations assisted by a family law attorney, and in economies like the one we’re living in today just working it out between them. It’s less costly, it’s child-focused, and it’s just plain smart.

However, there are those folks who find themselves in high-conflict predicaments and simply have no idea what they’re dealing with until they’ve engaged in self-sabotaging behaviors. You find yourself constantly put in a position to defend yourself against seemingly endless false accusations. Your sensibilities get so offended that you respond in kind to a nasty email or voice mail without stopping to think about how that will play out in family court. You’ve lost your focus on what the ultimate goal is. That goal is maximizing your child custody arrangement and ensuring that you’re an important and integral part of your children’s lives until they are adults.

There is no child custody benefit to you gaining “closure.” Nor is there any benefit in getting the last word, trying to convince someone who simply doesn’t?t care about the truth, or worse one-upping your ex with your own ability to be nasty.

What kind of tips do we have for you in moving towards low-contact and minimizing unnecessary communication with your ex-spouse?

  • Counseling or therapy is a great first step in aiding you to come to grips with your situation. Working with such professionals can help keep you and your emotions in check so that they’re not spilling into your communications with your ex-partner.
  • You’re no longer friends, lovers, and those things that may have brought you together in the beginning of your relationship cease to exist. You don’t need to check up on your ex-spouse to find out how their day was. Similarly, they don’t need to check up on how you’re doing. With a truly high-conflict ex, these are methods used to get you to let your guard down and can lead to critical mistakes that can impact child custody.
  • All of your contact with your ex-partner, both now and in the future, should be relegated to topics regarding the children. Paring the communication down even further, those discussions should only be on important matters pertaining to the children. Those topics may include school, extracurricular activities, medical issues, and similar. They should not be discussions on parenting techniques or giving/getting criticism regarding parenting styles. Eliminate any non-essential contact.
  • Other than emergency situations, all of your communications should be done in writing to eliminate straying from the important matter pertaining to the children. It also gives you the necessary time to scrutinize both the inbound email for relevant matters and your outbound mail for unnecessary information, emotional reaction or judgmental language.

It is critical that you approach every communication opportunity you have with your high-conflict ex-wife or ex-husband with the understanding that any communication with them may be used in family court against you. Any time you are about to put something in writing or leave a voice mail for your high-conflict ex-partner, write it with consideration to how a family court judge will view it, especially if you are trying to win custody.