An Illinois Divorce can be stressful under the best of circumstances. Even if the separation is amicable and you agree on most issues, it’s a time of significant life change and often emotional turmoil. That stress can be significantly aggravated when there’s a lot of conflict. But, there are steps you can take to dial down the stress, minimize conflicts, and keep your case moving forward. 

When is a Divorce High-Conflict?

There’s no formal definition for “high-conflict divorce,” but we generally use that term to mean what you’d think: that there are significant points of disagreement in the case. Sometimes, those disagreements are sincere. For example, one parent might strongly feel that the children would be better off living with them full-time, and not want to agree to a more equal division of parenting time. Or, there may be a dispute about the value of a high-dollar marital asset, or about whether certain property should be considered marital property. 

Unfortunately, there’s another source of conflict in many divorce cases: anger from one or both spouses that turns every issue into a battle. Hostility in a divorce case tends to be bad for everyone. It’s time-consuming, stressful, and expensive. And, it can keep two people who are both eager to finalize the divorce and move on with their lives trapped in the process. 

Managing Conflict During a Divorce Case

Temporary Orders 

When there’s a lot of conflict in a case, it’s best to minimize the issues the soon-to-be-former spouses have to work out on an ongoing basis. One way to do that is to get temporary orders in place right away. Temporary orders can address issues such as who stays in the marital residence until the divorce is final, who has temporary possession of which vehicle, who pays which bills while the divorce is pending and more. So, the parties never have to argue about issues like who should be paying the car insurance bill–the answer is in the court order. If the party who is responsible opts not to pay, the other spouse doesn’t have to argue with them. They can ask the divorce court to enforce the order. 

Similarly, temporary orders establishing a parenting time schedule can eliminate the need for parents to agree from day to day or week to week who will have the kids when. If tensions are running high and it’s difficult for the parties to agree on anything, the court order can be very specific, including details like which parent is to transport the children and where they will meet. A temporary child support order can minimize financial stress on the lower-earning parent and the parenting time and child support orders work together to diminish the impact of the conflict on the children. 

Temporary orders can also protect your assets by restricting sale of property or how funds can be spent while the divorce is pending. This is particularly important in a high-conflict divorce situation, since a contentious spouse may want to siphon off assets to get more than their fair share, or waste assets to hurt the other party. 

Temporary orders don’t address everything that will ultimately have to be agreed upon or determined by the court, and the final orders may be different from the temporary orders. Still, temporary orders can protect both parties’ interests as the case moves forward, provide predictability for any children of the marriage, and cut back on the need for the parties to resolve short-term issues on their own–particularly in a less-than-amicable situation. 

Avoiding Unnecessary Interaction

Temporary orders eliminate much of the need for interaction with your spouse during a high-conflict divorce, but you may still be negotiating issues to be addressed in the final order. And, one or both parties may be inclined to initiate contact just to argue, be critical, or even make threats. 

One way to mitigate this is to insist that all communications go through your attorneys, and that attorneys are present any time you are going to meet to discuss issues relating to your divorce. In a true emergency situation, such as a shared child being rushed to the hospital, quick, direct contact may make sense. But, if there is a lot of anger and/or mistrust in the relationship, even relatively small issues such as swapping parenting time weekends can go through your divorce lawyers, with no need for direct contact with your spouse. 

If the concern goes beyond the normal stress and conflict of a contentious divorce, you may want to ask the court for a protective order. If your spouse is threatening you, has a history of domestic abuse, has damaged your property, or you have other reason to fear the action they may take against you, be sure to talk to your attorney about these issues right away. 

Mediation in High-Conflict Divorces

While there are exceptions, it is usually beneficial to both parties in a divorce case to reach an agreement on most or all issues. Fighting those issues out in court can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive. And, contested hearings usually mean it takes longer to get to the finish line. 

When emotions are running high, it can be difficult to reach those resolutions. Mediation can often help. In mediation, you and your attorney will present your goals in terms of financial settlement, parenting time and other issues. Or, if you’re already agreed on most issues, you may choose mediation for a single issue or set of issues to get you to full agreement. 

The mediator isn’t a decision-maker, but a neutral third party who will attempt to help you reach an agreement. If you’re able to reach an agreement on all issues, you and your spouse will submit that agreement to the court for approval, avoiding the need for a trial. 

Make Sure You Have the Support You Need

Going through a divorce is tough, even if you and your spouse agree on most issues. A high-conflict divorce can be very stressful, and a contested divorce case often goes on for more than a year. 

Having a support system in place is critical during this time. That may include friends, family, a therapist and others. When you retain Peskind Law to represent you in your divorce case, you’ll also have the support of our Certified Divorce Coach. She’s there to listen, and to offer guidance as you plan for the transition and the future. 

An Experienced Divorce Lawyer is the Best Support

Your most powerful ally in getting through a high-conflict divorce is an experienced attorney who knows how to manage a contentious case in a way that best protects your interests. The whole team at Peskind Law has extensive knowledge and experience with Illinois divorce cases. Attorney Steven Peskind has written several books on family law. 

When you retain our firm, we work together toward the best outcome possible for you. To learn more about how we can help you navigate the difficulties that come with a high-conflict divorce case, call 630-444-0701 right now, or fill out our contact form. 


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Steven Peskind

Attorney Steven Peskind is recognized as one of the top attorneys in the nation. Throughout his career, he has been trusted by politicians, judges, professionals, business owners, and business executives (as well as their spouses) to discretely and professionally represent them in family…

Attorney Steven Peskind is recognized as one of the top attorneys in the nation. Throughout his career, he has been trusted by politicians, judges, professionals, business owners, and business executives (as well as their spouses) to discretely and professionally represent them in family law  matters.