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Info for Judges and Attorneys

There are very few affordable and competent resources when it comes to helping families in high conflict divorce and custody cases. New material for understanding the high conflict personality is becoming more and more available and the strategies for dealing with parents involved in high conflict divorce continue to evolve. As professionals, it is imperative we remain current in understanding how to work with the unique and challenging features of the high conflict population.

The High Conflict Diversion Program is dedicated to advancing the field. Traditional thinking is that all parents can and should be able to co-parent for the sake of the child. The truth of the matter is that as much as 30% of the cases judges see in family court fall into the category of being in high conflict and that the typical strategies for co-parenting don’t work. Most of the high conflict cases (the 30%) are driven by at least one of the parents that display behaviors that would be considered a personality disorder or behavior that is driven by substance abuse. By realizing that the traditional way the Family Court system uses to deal with this population actually perpetuates the conflict pattern experienced by the parents involved, we can then begin to implement the more effective strategies needed to move theses families out of the court system and toward a more stable future.

The Mission of the High Conflict Diversion Program is four-fold:

  1. Remove the children from the middle of the fight!
  2. Educate professionals for early identification.
  3. Create referral systems for professionals and the Family Court system for easy access to programs and services to help parents stop the cycle of conflict.
  4. Reducing the impact of high conflict divorce and custody on the parents and children caught in this destructive cycle.

Jurisdictions all over the country are discovering the High Conflict Diversion Program and ordering parents to take this highly effective parenting class. The High Conflict Diversion Program is a one of a kind high conflict parenting program that is designed to work even if only one of the parents learns and implements the skills we teach. The course has proven strategies that move the parent toward disengagement from the conflict, stabilizing the new family structure and focusing on the needs of the children as a priority.

We have heard from many judges that it isn’t always easy to identify high conflict cases so we created this list to help in that evaluation. As you look at the list of indicators I am sure you will agree at many of these indicators, as they stand alone would be reason enough to classify the case high conflict and that many of the cases you preside over contain many of these indicators.

High Conflict Diversion Program

23 Indicators of High Conflict Divorce and Custody

  1. There was a large power differential in the relationship (one parent had huge control issues)
  2. There were extreme and frequent outbursts of anger in the relationship
  3. There was and constant sense of instability in the relationship (not knowing how the other parent was going to react to a situation, a sense of bracing or of always walking on eggshells).
  4. One of the parents reacts like the other parent is victimizing them.
  5. One of the parents complains that they feel threatened by the other parent.
  6. One of the parents accuses the other parent of being neglectful, damaging, absent, controlling, abusive, enmeshed or overly involved.
  7. Either parent alleges drugs, including prescription or street drugs, alcohol abuse, gambling, or pornography.
  8. Either parent accuses the other parent of being unstable, crazy, erratic, irrationally, moody, emotionally disturbed or alleges such behavior as indicative of a personality problem or disorder.
  9. One or both of the parents complains about the safety and well-being of the children while in the other parent’s care.
  10. Refusal to follow the court orders.
  11. One or both parents argue that they have been the primary parent before the breakup or they insist they should be the primary parent now, refusing to agree to a parenting plan that incorporates both parents’ schedules providing for access to the children
  12. One of the parents refuses to reach a child sharing agreement(s)
  13. One of the parents has filed for a restraining order alleging domestic violence, including stalking, harassment, threats and physical altercations.
  14. One of the parents reacts at the FCS (Family Court Services) meeting by displaying emotions, such as being extremely frightened, angry, hysterical, or “showing” anxiety. Or one of the parents attacks the other with criticism.
  15. One of the parents seems to be deliberately provoking the other parent into reacting.
  16. Either parent alleges criminal behavior or possesses a criminal record.
  17. One of the parents accuses the other parent of lying.
  18. There has been involvement by CPS with the parents (or any professional) who has been called upon to assist the family with issues related to the welfare and/or safety of the children.
  19. Minor’s counsel has been assigned to the case (or is recommended) to provide the children a voice.
  20. The parents argue over child sharing percentages that do not appear to be based upon valid concerns. One parent complains that the other parent has not been involved with the children until now, insists upon imbalanced amounts of time, or communicates to FCS that they would be happy to keep the children away from the other parent.
  21. The parents’ stories about child sharing concerns or parenting concerns do not match up with the other parent’s concerns. It is a “he said/she said” argument, making it difficult to determine who is telling the truth.
  22. The case has earned a negative reputation with the courts because of continuous and/or frivolous litigation, as well as frequent changes in attorneys/pro per representation.
  23. Excessive court filings, or the parents have attended several FCS appointments and continue to argue about basic child sharing issues or custody.

If the case can be identified at an early stage the skills taught to the parents by the High Conflict Diversion Program can help divert the behaviors of the parents before they become engrained in the high conflict cycle.

If you would like more information on the High Conflict Diversion Program or if you would like to find ways to use this program in your jurisdiction please feel free to contact Brook Olsen directly @ brook@highconflcit.net or call directly to 760-751-4398

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