Custody cases often involve heightened emotions, even when parents are trying to be amicable and create a parenting plan together. When parents are already engaged in a high-conflict divorce case, this often creates an environment for a very contentious and frustrating custody case, which many refer to as a custody battle. These situations are incredibly hard on the entire family, particularly children.

It’s crucial that you have legal representation from a skilled Springfield child custody attorney for these cases to help lessen this stress.

What Is Considered a High-Conflict Divorce and Custody Case?

A high-conflict divorce and custody case is a divorce and custody case where parents are unable to communicate or discuss the case amicably, and they typically have to litigate the case. High-conflict cases can be spurred by disagreements over what’s right for children, serious legal accusations, conflicting personalities, and other interpersonal or legal reasons. A divorce or custody case may be considered high conflict for some of the following reasons:

  • One or both spouses engage in harassment, stalking, or other dangerous actions outside of court.
  • One or both spouses are incapable of or unwilling to discuss a parenting plan or separation agreement, or they cannot cooperate in any way.
  • One court date is insufficient to reach a conclusion to a divorce or custody case.
  • Spouses make serious accusations, such as untreated substance abuse, dangerous mental health disorders, child endangerment, or domestic violence.
  • Significant disputes arise between spouses about financial or custody wishes.

A high-conflict divorce increases the time, cost, and emotional frustration during a divorce. It also tends to result in parents failing to put the interests of their children first.

How Can You Manage a High-Conflict Custody Case?

In many high-conflict divorces, it isn’t possible to fully de-escalate things with your spouse. Although you should make attempts to communicate and compromise to find a solution, this isn’t always practical or fruitful. You can’t control how your spouse acts; you can only determine how you act and react. It’s important to do what you can to protect your own well-being and the interests of your children. Some of the things you can do include:

Keep Communications Respectful

In a high-conflict divorce, you want to limit your conversations and communication with your spouse as much as possible. However, communication is sometimes necessary, so it’s important to remain respectful and level-headed. Although this is easier said, try to limit emotional reactions and keep interactions as pleasant and business-like as you can.

Establish Boundaries

Setting boundaries is important for your own well-being, and it is crucial if you and your spouse will have to co-parent in the future. This may include creating a method of communication that limits conflict between you two and only using that method. It also includes following the temporary and permanent court orders that were created, along with the advice of mental health professionals and divorce attorneys.

Set Up a Support Network

A good support network includes family, friends, trusted groups, and professional support. This has the added benefit of letting you talk with other people about the stressful issues in your life while keeping those issues away from public locations, social media, and your children.

Keep Your Children Away From Disputes

You should always protect your children’s interests, and this includes not involving them in the conflict between you and your spouse. Do not use your children to send messages to your spouse, and do not complain to your children about your spouse. This can severely mentally and emotionally harm children, and it often makes them feel like they have to pick sides between their parents. It may also result in accusations of parental alienation.

Determine Coping Strategies

It’s important to take care of your own health and find healthy coping strategies for during and outside of court proceedings.


Q: What Is a High-Conflict Custody Case?

A: A high-conflict custody case refers to a child custody case with high emotions and significant conflict between parents, which usually requires litigation to resolve. Parents in a high-conflict custody case are not able to talk about or communicate toward any meaningful goals, and their interactions are likely to cause more emotional harm to their children.

Both parents should make efforts to limit their contact with each other beyond what is necessary, and they must keep their children away from these high-conflict discussions.

Q: Who Wins the Most Custody Battles?

A: Missouri does not set a preference for either parent. In fact, there is a legal presumption that joint custody is in the child’s interests. When practical, Missouri family courts tend to assign 50-50 custody. Only if the court determines that joint custody is not in the child’s interests will one parent receive a greater portion of parenting time. Although laws in the past preferred mothers in custody battles, this is no longer the case, and both parents have equal rights to their children.

Q: What Should You Not Say During a Custody Battle?

A: It’s important not to speak negatively about your ex-spouse for petty reasons during a custody battle, either in court or to your children. You should absolutely bring up serious concerns, such as a parent’s inability to care for their children, abusive behavior, or continued substance abuse. This is information that is brought to the court through your attorney. If you bring up past slights or annoyances in court or to your children, this can significantly damage your case for custody.

Q: Should You Talk to Your Ex During a Custody Battle?

A: Whether you should talk to your ex during a custody battle depends on the exact circumstances. If you and your partner are hoping to secure joint custody and a co-parenting schedule, communicating with the other parent may be necessary to begin negotiations and show the court that you are able to work together.

However, if the custody case is very contentious, and you and your co-parent can’t talk without arguing, it is better to keep conversations to a minimum and make them like business interactions.

Contact Stange Law Firm in Springfield, MO

A high-conflict divorce can take a long time to resolve while creating a lot of strain on everyone in the family. When you work with a family law attorney, this can help your case resolve more quickly and protect your rights and your children’s interests more effectively. Contact the team at Stange Law Firm today.