The more prepared you are, the less likely you will be to have a high-conflict divorce. While these hints can’t fully protect you, the sooner you take action on them, the better off you will be.
1. Develop an emergency plan. Your partner could assault or evict you at any time. Figure out a safe place to go, get some ready cash, and think about who can help you on short notice. Copy important records and keep them in a safe place. (See chapter 5.)
2. As soon as possible after they occur, write down accurate details of problems and events between you and your partner (and others) that could become issues in court. Keep a journal or other written record of anything pertinent. If other people were present, write down their names. Save email and text-message correspondence in a safe place, especially copies of hostile, harassing, and controversial exchanges. (See chapter 5.)
3. Communicate very carefully and respectfully with your partner, because anything may be introduced into evidence. Make any emails, whether initiated by you or in response to your partner, brief, informative, friendly, and firm (BIFF; see chapter 4). This is especially true if your partner’s emails are hostile. Avoid setups for violent confrontations, such as physically fighting over papers, or pushing and shoving. Indicate that you want to settle issues out of court to keep things calm, but always be prepared for the realistic possibility of court. (See chapters 4, 5, 13, and 14.)
4. Protect your children from conflicts between you and your partner. Don’t say anything against your partner, no matter how provoked you might be, because anything could become evidence. Avoid:
Bill Eddy is an attorney, therapist, mediator and the President of High Conflict Institute. Bill and our affiliate trainers are available to present 3-hour and 6-hour training sessions to organizations, large and small, in understanding and managing incivility and other high-conflict behavior. We have provided such training to law offices, hospital administrations, human resource departments from colleges to railroads, homeowners associations and staff, and others. Bill is the author of several books, including: BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Personal Attacks, Hostile Email and Social Media Meltdowns(HCI Press, 2011).For more information about our seminars, books, CDs and DVDs, please visit www.HighConflictInstitute.com.