High-Conflict Ex and Child Custody


You are separated or divorced with a child custody order, but for some reason your ex thinks he/she can still control and second-guess your every movement regarding your agreement. He or she employs the techniques of manipulation, control, lies or passive-aggressive ways of dealing with you. The following are 5 tips to deal with such a person.

Be Polite

High Conflict Personality (HCP) types thrive on arguments and discord. It gives them a sense of power. Nevertheless, to keep the upper hand in your case and maintain decorum and credibility in the court, it’s imperative that you maintain your cool and remain polite at all times. Although the HCP person may take your civility and politeness as a sign of weakness, the Judge will most likely see it differently – as you trying your best to deal with the other party in a even-handed and fair manner.

Be Firm and Accurate

Your HCP ex is used to getting their way. They thrive on manipulation and changing things up when you least expect it. If you have a Judgment or Custody Order in place, always come back to this document when dealing with them. They will claim this and that…that it’s their weekend to have the kids when it’s not, and so forth. Stand your ground if it makes sense to do so, and send them a nice polite email highlighting the provisions in your Court Order/Judgment which clearly show that they are misinformed. That’s it.

Understand Your Judgment/Court Order

Read, know and understand what your rights, duties and obligations are. If you are unaware, you can never successfully deal with an HCP. They thrive on chaos and creating doubt. So, do yourself a favor and know your document inside and out. When she or he presents or creates issues out of the blue, you can rest assured that you know what to do.

Pick Your Battles

Your ex calls or writes to you a few hours before a birthday party and says she/he has to take your child to it – as if it will be the end of the world if you don’t allow it. Your inclination will be to say – no way, it’s my weekend or custody day. If your child wants to go and you are able to accommodate without it interfering with your previously existing schedule, do so. Resist the temptation to fight about everything under the sun, even if they do so. Please understand that, in many cases, your HCP ex will not reciprocate. The light may never come on in their head that you are being flexible, and trying to work with them to the best of your ability. Nevertheless, save your energy for the big things that are bound to come up with these types of people. You will show that you are level headed and the contrast between you and them will be self-evident to all.

Consider Online Communications

In order to cut-down on false allegations and accusations, see if you can get the Judge to order both of you to communicate through a service such as “Our Family Wizard” or the like. In this way, all communication times, dates and conversations are recorded and the Judge can evaluate the truth of what either party may be asserting at any given time.