Bill Eddy’s High Conflict Institute always has great information in the field of managing High Conflict Personalities in the context of divorce and Family Law cases. It is difficult, if not impossible, to manage some people that present as High Conflict; often these people have traits of personality disorders that make their behaviors and communications toxic. As is pointed out below, the HCP (High Conflict Person) is not going to change, but you as the stable and rational party can always choose how to respond. One element that the article does not mention is the benefits to using a third party, such as a skilled Parenting Coordinator, to intercede in conflict situations, and allow the rational person to retreat to the safety of the Parenting Coordinator, instead of arguing or fighting with the HCP. In other words, if the HCP wants a toxic fight, don’t reward the bed behavior. Choose better ways to manage HCPs, and preserve a bit a tranquil space for yourself and the children.
The 4D’s of High Conflict Divorce
1. Disengage: You are in conflict with your child’s other parent because their words and actions negatively trigger and affect you and your children. And, like most parents, you will do anything to protect your children form harm – physical, verbal and emotional. If you take the time to sort through your triggers and plan a strategy for how to cope when triggered, you will be putting yourself (and your children) on a path for healthier conflict resolution.
How Will Temporary Court Closures Due to COVID-19 Affect Family Law Cases?
Many clients of our firm are asking this important question: What is the immediate impact on my case if my courthouse is closed for weeks or months, starting right now?
It has been only since last Friday that the various counties in Illinois announced via email and posts on their websites that the courthouses were to be closed for about 30-45 days, while the COVID-19 pandemic works its way through Illinois. Many of our cases were set for important hearings with our judges in March and April, and now these cases will have to be reset. Some will be reset by the courts, and others are being reset by agreement with opposing counsel.
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Reading up today on divorce planning, the reminder was made that the summer is often the time that many people postpone thoughts of divorce. The reasons for this are many. Business during the summer with activities takes the attention away from difficult subjects like divorce. For many parents, it’s just enough making sure that the kids are having a good summer, and that summer trips or vacations are being taken before the kids go back to school.
Even if you are already decided that you wish to file for divorce, there are a number of things that you can do to make the eventual decision easier. None of these steps are disruptive, and the you and the children will enjoy the summer without thoughts of disruption or change. Here are a few themes to focus on during the summer:
Questions come up from time to time about how parents are treated in Parentage cases ( where the parents are unmarried) vs. in a divorce case. Should fathers for example, be treated differently in a child custody case if they are not married to the mother of the child or children? The answer in Illinois, fortunately, is no. The Illinois Parentage Act borrows and connects with the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) and utilizes in Parentage cases the same child custody statutes that are used in divorce cases. These days, parents are no longer awarded “custody,” but are awarded “allocations of parenting time.”
In a New Jersey case, the Parentage courts were expected to decide child custody issues in a speedy fashion, and it seems that this expedited approach robbed some fathers of the right to have a full hearing over child custody issues. A recent case there made the news, as the appellate court decided that the rules for parentage cases should follow the same rules and due process afforded in a divorce case. Here’s a summary of that case for those interested in the details:
One of the primary concerns that parents have about an impending divorce is the question of the resilience and adaptability of the children to divorce. In my practice at Law Offices of Michael F. Roe LLC, there has been a history of successfully managing cases that sometimes involve complex issues, such as a parent with traits of a personality disorder, Parental Alienation, or a toxic parent that acts out in the family with a lot of chaos, threats, and aggression. Cases that have these features make the protocols put into place all the more important in order to protect my clients and the wellbeing of the children. I have spent the last 20 years focused on the clinical and psychological issues in divorce and custody, and make every effort to apply this experience in each and every case in my Firm; there are no “cookie cutter” approaches and each family’s case is different and requires different solutions and plans.
One of the goals of managing these complex cases is to create a plan for the developmental health of the children, both in the near term and the long term. A recent article has reflected on outcomes in divorce cases with children, and the findings of the varied research are interesting. The research speaks to the idea that kids that emerge from low conflict divorces, with mindful and respectful parents, do better over the long term. Kids from chaotic families tend do do more poorly, but my belief is that with good planning and protection, these difficult outcomes can be mitigated:
” Divorce affects most children in the short run, but research suggests that kids recover rapidly after the initial blow. Most children of divorce also do well in the longer term. Researchers have consistently found that high levels of parental conflict during and after a divorce are associated with poorer adjustment in children.
In my practice there are many cases where a co-parenting outcome is not appropriate. Behavioral issues, parenting deficits, or mental health issues require that the fit and healthy parent be awarded the primary custody of the minor children, for the children’s own developmental wellbeing. However, in some cases a co-parenting or shared parenting model is appropriate, and I have developed, in consultation with some excellent clinical co-parenting models, some very beneficial shared parenting agreements for parents.
From tiem to time, articles come along that discuss strategies for shared parenting, and Rosalind Sedacca, CCT, recently posted the following article:
” If you’re a parent, divorce doesn’t end your relationship with your former spouse. It only changes the form in some specific ways. It is still essential to create a working relationship focused on the optimum care and concern for your children. Every co-parenting relationship will be unique, affected by your post-divorce family dynamics. However, there are guidelines that will enhance the results for children in any family. Here are some crucial points to keep in mind to maximize your co-parenting success.
My practice centers, in part, on complex custody litigation, sometimes involving psychological issues, addiction issues, domestic violence, and negative parenting behaviors. In some cases, I need to aggressively manage a custody case for my clients to ensure the optimum result for the client and the children. This may mean sole legal custody and restricted visitation for the other parent. In other cases, where the parents are loving, competent, and willing to cooperate, a shared parenting plan can really work out well. I have developed a number of shared parenting models that I can apply to specific family situations. While Illinois custody law does not support presumptive shared parenting (as other states do), if this is good for my client then I am going to be aggressive about creating an optimum shared parenting plan for my clients. Shared parenting can be advantageous for parents and kids, as well as challenging in some respects. The following article from a clinician discusses some of the reasons why:
” As a therapist and writer specializing in divorce, I’m often asked, “When does co-parenting get easier?” While there is no simple answer to this question, most experts probably agree that while families usually adapt to co-parenting over time, it never really gets easier. Most co-parenting arrangements, especially after an acrimonious split, can be exhausting and exasperating. Put simply, the challenges change as children grow and develop. Consequently, it’s key for parents to keep in mind that the tools necessary to succeed need to be modified considerably as children age and mature.
Clearly, research by child development experts demonstrates numerous benefits to children when their living arrangements enable support from both parents. One reason is that parents who co-parent tend to experience lower conflict than those who have sole custody arrangements. Studies show that conflict is what creates the most pain and anguish for children after parents’ split, and that keeping parental disagreements to a minimum is a key aspect of helping kids become resilient.
Most people have a general sense of what a narcissistic personality is. We meet these types of people in everyday life, from neighbors, to co-workers, to relatives. However, when narcissistic personalities are involved in divorce and custody cases, I often see a toxicity, a malignancy, to these personality types that affects their ability to function as parents, to function under the stress of litigation, and to function without being abusive or toxic to the other spouse. Narcissists can make false allegations, act as parental alienators with children, and take positions in a divorce case that defy fact and logic. My job as an attorney in these cases is to assess the level of dysfunction, and manage the case appropriately so that my clients and the children, are protected.
So, what are narcissists? Melissa Schenker is a writer and consultant that offers some general background on narcissists. Melissa is the author of “Sweet Relief From the Everyday Narcissist.”
Have you heard someone be accused of being a narcissist, but realized that you don’t really know what that means? You know it’s negative. You may think that it probably means someone is egotistical, or self-absorbed. But how do you really know if someone is a narcissist?
Some of my clients are aware that the funds provided for initial consultations with my firm go into a nonprofit foundation account (www.karunainstitute.org) for the benefit of a children’s orphanage in Ukraine, among other causes. I am presently coordinating with Life2Orphans.org on an Odessa, Ukraine orphanage project to assist children in the orphanage with HIV.
I saw today, via Twitter, an article that was both inspirational and educational. Aside from helping kids affected by MTCT HIV, it is helpful to understand that with modern care, these kids can be as healthy and “adoptable” as any child, and they deserve a better life than that afforded by the detski dom. Here is the article:
Who Could Possibly Want HIV+ Children?