Tuesday, February 15, 2011

10 Myths About High-Conflict Divorce

After working with divorcing families for over 30 years, first as a social worker and then as a family law attorney, I believe the following myths are stronger than ever. The first list is what some professionals think. The second list is what some parents think. Make sure to read both lists, then let me know if there are any you don’t understand or want explained further. You can see how these myths trigger defensiveness and increase conflict – yet they continue to exist.

10 Myths about High-Conflict Parents (by some Family Law Professionals)

1. They’re not very smart.

2. They don’t care about their children.

3. If one parent is high conflict, then the other must be too.

4. Public lectures and shaming will motivate them to use good parenting behavior.

5. Allegations of abuse are always false and a manipulation to get control.

6. Allegations of alienation are always false and a smoke screen for true abuse.

7. If you just ignore high-conflict parents, their children will do just fine as adults.

8. Children’s preferences are not influenced by either parent in high-conflict families.

9. They all have personality disorders and nothing will reach them.

10. They’re both lying anyway, so you shouldn’t listen to anything they say.

10 Myths about Family Law Professionals (by some Divorcing Parents)

1. Professionals should agree with me and give me whatever I want.

2. The judge will immediately see through the other party, even though it took me many years.

3. Criticizing or yelling at my professional will motivate him or her to listen and work harder.

4. They all want to increase the conflict so they can just make more money.

5. They’re all arrogant and none can be trusted.

6. The entire family law system is corrupt and many professionals are taking bribes.

7. Administrative actions against professionals are always valid, but fail because of corruption.

8. Public exposure and blame will motivate them to use good professional behavior.

9. They’re not very smart.

10. They don’t care about the children.

Some of these may be true in a rare case, but in many (most?) cases they are not true. Yet these myths continue and are just making things worse. We need to check our own thinking and avoid splitting people into all-good and all-bad. Let’s treat everyone with respect and make no assumptions, so we can work on accurately understanding each families' specific problems. What do you think?


Rhoberta Shaler, PhD said...
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Rhoberta Shaler, PhD said...

Bill, your lists are so accurate that I couldn't help but smile as I read them.

Thanks for making these so clear. I agree with you. The assumptions, excuses, and justifications folks offer for their anger and blame are often based on these myths. Clients who subscribe to them seem to hope that the positions declared in them will deflect attention from their own motives, desires and demands.

How can we avoid talking about what needs talking about? Let me count the ways!

Interesting tactic. Poor strategy.

Thanks again, Bill.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with one piece. When dealing with a high conflict ex, it is best to ignore that individual, but not ignore the needs of the child(ren). This is how I think it should be worded.