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Tips for parenting after divorce with a high-conflict ex

Although reaching an amicable divorce is a noble goal, especially when a couple in Minnesota has children, it is the unfortunate fact that sometimes one’s ex has a personality disorder or a high-conflict personality that makes co-parenting very difficult. In the end, it is important to try to reduce the conflict to which the children are exposed. What are some tips for parents who are dealing with a high-conflict ex after a divorce?

First of all, individuals with high-conflict personalities may make demeaning comments or even engage in acts of abuse. This should not be tolerated. Parents and their children deserve to feel secure and safe. So, what if this safety is threatened? Sometimes it can help to have a third party present, such as a mediator, when you have to communicate with your ex. Try not to respond to text messages or emails that are abusive, as this could lengthen the cycle of abuse.

Also, keep in mind that although you cannot control your ex’s actions, you can control your own. Focus on happiness. You should not, in the name of avoiding conflict, allow a high-conflict ex to do something that you are not comfortable with. Keeping communications business-like can help. Also, keeping contact at a minimum with your ex and setting boundaries with regards to your relationship may also be a good idea.

Finally, make sure that your child custody plan is highly structured and addresses all the specifics, such as what schedules will be maintained and who will have the kids during summer break, holidays and other important events, along with other aspects of parenting. If you cannot speak face-to-face, communicating in writing may be a possibility. 

In the end, it is important to protect the child’s best interests. Children caught between parents who demean each other or constantly argue, even after a divorce, may feel like they have to take sides or they may feel scared or anxious. Not every divorce can end amicably, but there are strategies that can help parents deal with a high-conflict ex in an appropriate manner.

Source: The Good Men Project, “Successful Post-Divorce Parenting With a High-Conflict Ex,” Terry Gaspard, May 13, 2016 

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