I have had high conflict divorce cases for years… but I finally really saw the face of a high conflict Co-Parent on depositions this week. Now I know what my client sees that normally a HCCP hides to the rest of the world.
The truth is that most of the time, a person who is a narcists, has a high conflict personality type, or is a perpetrator of domestic violence hides their true face REALLY well. The often come across as charming. You know something is off… you know the other Co-Parent is not really making this all up… you just don’t physically see their personality on their face. Well, most of the time. I just did this week.
What does that look like?
HCCPs are totally unable to understand they are contributing to the conflict. They 100% pin it on the other parent. What is interesting is that they are normally able to problem solve for future events… just not in the here and now.
This guy’s quizical look of complete and utter confusion as to why it might be better for his child to be with the Co-Parent rather than his mother if he was unavailable was telling.
The sad part is that the Court system does not really punish the Co-Parent despite one of the factors is all about how well they are able to co-parent and which is most likely to allow the other contact. Basically, the Court leaves the Co-Parent in hell… only to come back to court again and again.
Doesn’t sound like the best interest of the child does it?
The truth is that you have to learn how to deal with this HCCP. It is up to you to change. Many of my clients ask me why they should have to change when it is the other parent causing the problems. The simple answer is that it is unlikely the other person is ever going to do anything different moving forward. Only you have the power to make things better for you and your child. Your job is to know how to respond without increasing the conflict (or even if you need to respond at all).
My favorite book to help you work on your response to HCCPs is Billy Eddy’s BIFF book. Title is terrible but the content is amazing. Here is a link to it on Ebay.
In my mediation practice, I offer transformative mediation which not only works on resolving the issues, but also in improving your techniques in dealing with the other Co-Parents. This is truly the only hope the Parties have to improve their communication and how they work together.
Obviously, the Parallel Parenting concept does help minimize conflict by keeping everyone in their own lane on their own time. There are plenty of ways to do things separately from taking turns making decisions, to having automity in your own home, to each having certain things you have the sole decision making authority.
Another big help is if you have a Co-Parent Coordinator who is able to break the tie if the Parties are unable to come to their own joint decision. This at least provides some resultion until the Parties are able to head back to Court to let the Judge decide. Often, it keeps the Parties from a new modification every year.
There are certainly plenty of tools you need when you have a HCCP in your life. The good news is that there great resources out there.
If you have read Bill Eddy’s book, comment below and let me know your thoughts. I find it to be amazingly helpful and recommend it to all my clients!