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Are You a High Conflict Couple?


As a divorce attorney and mediator I can tell you divorce litigation is very rarely a positive process. Mediated and negotiated settlements are increasingly popular especially among divorcing couples in today’s COVID-19 climate.

A high conflict couple is generally a couple who is having difficulty communicating, who sometimes engage in threatening or manipulative behavior, and who often need a third party to support productive discussions.

As a psychologically-trained divorce attorney and mediator I see anger and resentment playing a big role in many couple's inability to communicate effectively. My role whether mediating or negotiating is to help put a lid on all this non-productive behavior. When anger and resentment become the center of any relationship, the conflict in the relationship takes on a life of its own, and thoughtful, productive conversations become impossible. My unique psychologically-infused divorce mediation addresses these behaviors.

I met with Angela and Sam (not their actual names), virtually, for a consultation. Ii our first meeting it became clear to me they were a high conflict couple. Angela introduced the idea of mediation to her husband, and he considered it, because it would be less expensive than both of them hiring attorneys. When we arranged our Zoom video conference 3 weeks ago, they were self-quarantining with their three young children due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During our first session they discussed their tumultuous relationship with me, and immediately started rehashing the past. They continued to layout their grievances and kept interrupting each other. I intervened and cautioned that the past had no place in our discussion, and mediation was about finding solutions and moving forward. They continued to argue back and forth, and seldom came up for air. I listened carefully, empathized, advised, encouraged and guided their discussions.

We discussed assets, real estate, 401(k) plans, child support, spousal support, visitation, life insurance, health insurance and taxes over the next few Zoom meetings. Along the way the disruptive behaviors joined the process, but I repeatedly reminded them of the goal, kept a more productive conversation going, and helped them make important decisions which I documented in preparation of their settlement agreement. It is not unusual for a high conflict couple to fight for control in the mediation process.

My role as a mediator is to manage this, be the voice of reason, identify and address some of the emotional issues infecting the relationship, and to provide recommendations for resolution. One of the main issues, although not the only one, was that the wife had a hoarding problem which that the husband repeatedly addressed as annoying, unsafe and it really trigger his anger. I was able to help the wife with this, as part of my mediation process, and she is now working virtually with a psychologist experienced in the treatment of obsessive behaviors which includes hoarding.

For this couple mediation is working really well. I expect them to make some final decisions regarding custody, and visitation shortly and the mediation process should conclude in the next two weeks.

If mediation is new to you, it is an effective, cooperative process in which a neutral third party (me) helps couples reach a fair settlement. During mediation I request honesty, promote positive communication, handle their expression of emotion, reinforce positive decisions, uncover and address the root of underlying issues, and help couples stay focused on finding solutions and preparing for the future, instead of arguing about the past.

If you are interested in hearing about how this highly successful mediation method can work for you, give me a call! I will be happy to answer all your questions about mediation!

Don’t worry, even if you are angry at each other, I can help!

During the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic all our FREE ONE HOUR CONSULTATIONS are conveniently conducted virtually by telephone or TeleDivorce by Zoom of Skype to reduce risk and maintain safety for everyone!

Call now to book your free consultation. 212.734.1551

I look forward to working with you, and helping you create a fair agreement.

Stay Healthy & Safe!

Warm regards,