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10 Strategies to Empower You When Dealing with a Contentious Divorce

By Beverly Price March 03, 2023 Family

Getting through a divorce can be extremely difficult at best, even when both parties are doing their best to cooperate. In cases where there is high conflict, divorce can turn from challenging to disaster quickly, as one or both parties tend to exhibit extreme behaviors, have lots of unmanaged emotions, and blame each other for pretty much everything.

Here are some approaches for getting through a high-conflict divorce, and moving on:

Keep Contact to a Minimum

A high-conflict person is a bully and thrives on confrontation. He will twist what you say and use your words against you. The best strategy in dealing with this type of ex is to minimize contact as much as possible and keep things short and sweet.

Eliminate face-to-face meetings when possible, and always communicate in writing, not by phone. It may seem like overkill, but if an issue arises, being able to pull up texts, e-mails, and letters in court is much easier than having a “he said, she said” moment.

Don’t Share with Your Ex

It’s tempting to think that you can share your feelings with your ex, and he will see how much he is hurting you. But in a high-conflict divorce, what you say can and will be used against you.

Your family, friends, and coach are your support system; they’re there to listen to how you’re feeling. And although it’s important to keep yourself accountable, admit your mistakes in a safe and supportive environment. With your ex, it’s best to stick to the facts. Keep your new relationship practical.

It’s About Them, Not You

It may be hard not to take things personally, especially when your ex is calling you names and putting you through emotional hell. But, in reality, your ex is lashing out because he is feeling insecure and out of control – two things high-conflict people despise.

Just remember, even when your ex’s behavior is at its worst, it’s still about your ex, not you. You are not the problem, your ex is. Practicing acceptance is difficult, but essential.

Take Charge of Your Situation

The family court system is bogged down, and most judges won’t have the kind of time needed to accurately assess your complicated situation. Create a team of experts who are in your corner. Being “nice” won’t get you what you need in the divorce.

So many people look back on their divorces and wish they had exercised their voice and demanded what was right for them. If you have past issues that prevent you from claiming your own power and voice, seek a divorce and empowerment coach who can help you learn how to stand up and speak.

Plan Your Responses

Outside legitimate emergencies, give yourself time to respond to your ex’s issues and demands without reacting emotionally. In certain cases, it is best for all communication during the divorce to go through attorneys. Running your responses by your coach before you send them helps a great deal.

But what about after the divorce? If you receive an inflamed text or call, take a little while to compose yourself, do a task unrelated to the communication to shift your perspective before you come back to respond. Write a draft of your response and don’t send it until you’ve taken some time away to clear your head.

Hold to Your Boundaries and Be Consistent

Dealing with a high-conflict ex-spouse can be like dealing with an unruly child. Consistency is key to navigating the minefields ahead. Setting boundaries is essential to your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

Be consistent – don’t back off and change your rules.

It does not mean being inflexible; it simply means maintaining the well-being of yourself by insisting that boundaries are respected. Writing down rules and timelines is essential to sticking to your original plan. If you need help setting boundaries, a divorce and empowerment coach can help.

Be Prepared

It may be relieving to think that the worst is over, but when dealing with a high-conflict personality, this is usually not the case. Even when things seem to be settling down, you need to remain vigilant. Document everything. Keep your communications factual and on point. Celebrate your victories, but don’t let down your guard. Don’t change the rules because of a temporary change in behavior or emotional pleading. This is a tactic that high-conflict individuals employ.

Be Patient and Realistic

Don’t set unrealistic expectations. Your situation will not be resolved overnight. But keep track of the things that matter most: you. Don’t take the bait, no matter how nasty your ex behaves. Document, document, document. Keep your emotions in check. And seek the help you need to move on.


During this grueling process, your energy can be drained, your physical health may deteriorate, your concentration can wane, your ability to cope with tasks may diminish, and you may be overwhelmed with all your new responsibilities.

Take time for yourself, recharge, pace yourself and practice positive thinking and gratitude. Remind yourself of all the awesome things about you. Journaling can be a great outlet. Surviving a high-conflict divorce requires strategic thinking and emotional perseverance, but with the right amount of planning and emotional preparation, it is certainly possible to achieve emotional recovery.

Emotional Recovery

The road to recovery after divorce can be a long one. Don’t go it alone. Emotions can run the gamut from shame, guilt, anger, resentment, loneliness and more. These emotions need to be dealt with without stuffing them in order to move past this negative life change.

Also, don’t turn to a new relationship without learning more about yourself first, or you can find yourself in another failed relationship. Talking with a divorce and empowerment coach can guide you on the road to a more fulfilling and happy life, so that the new chapter in your life is infinitely better than your past.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you anticipating a contentious divorce? How can you de-escalate the divorce hostility?

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My goal and motto was to handle everything with dignity and grace so he had no ammunition against me. I would remind myself “dignity and grace” before I acted or responded – I wanted to be able to live with myself with no regrets. It was also worth my sanity to have communication go thru my attorney. I feel your pain as you go thru this difficult journey. Dignity and grace helped me survive the anguish.

The Author

With 25 years of experience, Beverly Price guides you along your journey from getting to know yourself to self-empowerment through Life-shattering event and Divorce and Empowerment Coaching, so that you can reframe your mindset and rewrite your story as a confident, happy, and fulfilled woman.

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