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Managing Conflict In Divorce
by Kim Hess

The ending of a marriage will bring along with it confusion, sadness, and many adjustments.  More often than not, divorce will also bring about conflict.  Fortunately, there are options to help former partners manage conflict during the strenuous process of divorce. 


  • Mediation is a short term process which focuses on building an agreement between former spouses regarding financial issues and any issues dealing with children from the marriage.  A mediator helps the two parties work through problems until an agreement is reached which is then filed as a court order.

Collaborative Divorce

  • Collaborative divorce is another approach to helping manage conflict.  This type of divorce is a written contract that the divorcing parties and their attorneys agree to work for a mutually agreeable settlement without going to court.

Co-parent Counseling

  • For divorces involving children, co parent counseling is a good option in reducing conflict when the parents struggle with agreeing on decisions regarding their children.  A professional in this field can help parents improve their communication skills and work on strategies to prevent and reduce conflicts.

Diffuse Conflict

  • Another effective way of helping to manage conflict is to find out your former partner's position on things. Let's say that you would both like to spend time with the kids on Saturdays. It will help to ask questions to help diffuse conflict.  Questions like:
    1. Can you help me to understand why this is important to you?
    2. What are you concerned about?
    3. What could I do to make my position acceptable to you?
    4. What's the real problem?
    5. What are your reasons for not doing it the way I suggested?

Listen to their responses and then repeat what your former spouse has said to make sure you understand.  Remember you are not trying to be nice, you are being strategic. They are giving you information and clues as to how this conflict can be managed and resolved.

Also, remember to take responsibility for your role in the conflict.  You cannot control your former partner.  But you can control and manage what you bring into the situation to add to the conflict.

Not reacting to anger is the most common sense and effective way to manage conflict while going through a divorce and even after the divorce is final. Conflict before, during, and after a divorce is almost unavoidable.  It is helpful and almost necessary to deal with the conflict in a way that can help you learn to get along with your former partner so that a settlement can be worked out and you can co-parent your children.

Divorce is never a happy time.  Remember to try to remedy the pain and stress by not further fueling it with anger, and conflict.

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