What Does The Face of High Conflict Co-Parenting Look Like?

Carrie Sue Doxsee, J.D.
3 min readMay 15, 2021

I saw it in depositions this week.

Sometimes they let the mask slip

Most people with high conflict personalities have an amazing mask to hide it. In fact they come across charming, sweet, or just a super nice person. Their goal is to make it impossible for anyone to believe they could do the things the other Co-Parent is telling someone — especially the Guardian Ad Litem and the Court.

When I first meet with my clients, it is obvious to me when we have someone with a high conflict personality type. There are times, when, with a bit of time, I see it is my client that is the problem. Having been trained in High Conflict, I see the signs. Most people can’t. Why? The mask of the HCCP is just that good (and permanently affixed)!

In my deposition, I saw the face of a HCCP (High Conflict Co-Parent).

What did it look like?

Absolute puzzlement.

Something a Co-Parent who deals with this person does not see.

When you can’t understand why it is important to work together, it is a problem for your child.

When you can’t understand why it is important for a child to be with a parent over a third-party, it is a problem.

When you are hell bent on destroying the other Co-Parent but pretend that, instead, you are trying to protect the child, you are the problem.

How does their brain work?

A HCCP cannot see another side other than their own. They 100% buy into their version of the world and are not even able to Co-Parent. There is no ability in the here and now to come to any compromise.

My way or the highway thinking.

The only hope is to get them to problem solve in the future. There are times you can get them to look at a framework for solving problems and find a solution. It is tricky, but possible.

How can you work with a HCCP?

There are tools and techniques that allow some problem solving with HCCP. You can learn how YOU can minimize the conflict even if the Co-Parent will not cooperate. It takes time. It takes study. But you can do it.

Where do you start?

My first recommendation for you is to buy Bill Eddy’s Book- BIFF for Co-Parents.

Hands down best read for someone with HCCP

This is actually a second version. You want the GREEN book for Co-Parenting; however, if you have issues in the work place or with someone other than your spouse, buy the RED version of the book. The BIFF method teaches you (1) if you should you respond and if so (2) how do you respond. There are wonderful examples that help you start to get your arms wrapped around how to keep from adding to the conflict.

Did you know that you can add to the conflict by consistently backing down and not standing up for yourself?

The real problem is that you can’t stand up for yourself as you would in a normal situation. So it is imperative to learn these techniques to gain ground on a more equal playing field.

Remember, the best way to find solutions is to look at problems that could happen in the future… not waiting for the problem to show up.

Having the best Co-Parenting relationship possible is what your child deserves. Putting in the work to practice these techniques can help your child live a happier life. It can lower the level of stress you live with and give you a happier life as well. You can’t always change the Co-Parent, but you can change your life and the life of your child.