In some situations, communication breaks down altogether. Diana Parker, senior partner in our London family team, shares her advice on managing high conflict in divorce, based on her long experience of helping clients to prepare for and get through their separation.
Your main ally in life becoming your enemy is a nightmare. Suddenly, they are only concerned with their own interests, which are the opposite of yours. Feeling someone is attacking you makes your mind and your body prepared to wage war. Expect the following:
- The adrenaline that comes from your body preparing to fight means you lose your appetite, and feel queasy.
- You can think of nothing else.
- You are consumed by rage all the time and want literally to throw stones through windows.
- You constantly rehearse killer arguments that go round and round in your head.
This is going to be a long haul and you need to pace yourself and get fit, physically and mentally. Part of the game being played is to wear you down so you just give in.
Here are some tips for those facing this challenging situation:
Get a solicitor you have confidence in and agree some defensive strategies such as:
- Never be forwarded anything on a Friday or last thing in the day.
- Never be forwarded a letter that has come in without an accompanying draft response.
Never dash off e-mails to your about-to-be ex
If in doubt, get your solicitor to OK an e-mail first. Best, however, in certain cases, to have no communication at all except to do with collection and delivering back of children. There is no point in buying a dog and barking yourself. Let your about-to-be ex know that you are not going to respond. Then make sure you do not give in to temptation.
Probably the best is for you to agree that you will be focussing on financial disclosure
...and that you will then be looking at a Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing which is where a neutral third party Judge or lawyer who can act as a Judge will hear both sides' proposals and propose a solution. This will not be imposed on either of you but needs to be considered carefully. It is often a good way to break deadlock and reach agreement. Keep focussed on that time line.