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High conflict divorce may not be avoidable

It is probably no surprise to Alberta residents that divorce is among the most stressful events a person can endure. Even if the split is amicable and one's spouse is a reasonable person, the tension of breaking up and starting over can be overwhelming. To divorce on positive terms, through mediation or collaborative law, often allows a couple to recover more quickly and move forward with their new lives. However, psychologists say this may not be possible if one is married to a person with a high-conflict personality.

One mark of a high-conflict personality is deceitfulness. Someone who tells lies about his or her spouse or twists the facts may do so in an aggressive or even abusive way. Such a spouse may also spread those lies to friends and family members to paint him or herself as a victim while making the other spouse seem like a bully. Psychologists consider these behaviors narcissistic, especially when combined with alienating behavior or a refusal to see anyone else's point of view. This is why mediation may be impossible in those circumstances.

Psychologists say the best way for someone to deal with such a spouse during a divorce is to keep in mind that the divorce may provide new opportunities apart from such a negative person. While the spouse of a high-conflict personality may have hoped for a change in his or her spouse, such a transformation is not likely. The better advice of counselors is to set boundaries between oneself and the narcissistic spouse.

Although the trend in family law is alternative methods of divorce, such methods may not be possible in every situation. Couples in Alberta who are highly conflicted in marriage are likely to face a highly contested divorce. In such cases, having a passionate and responsive lawyer to protect one's interests may be the best way to reach a more positive resolution.

Source: huffingtonpost.ca, "5 Signs Your Divorce Will be High Conflict (And How to Survive)", Susan Valentine, Accessed on June 23, 2017

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