How does a Difficult Divorce differ from the norm?
There are 3 assumptions that we unconsciously believe about divorce: that both parties are to blame, that both parties are motivated to end negotiations, and that both parties centralise the interest of any child/ren they may share.
Let’s consider each assumption in turn.
1. Who is to blame in a Difficult Divorce?
Unsurprisingly, as we assume that Difficult Individuals cause difficult situations, we do not agree with the idea that both parties are to blame for a Difficult Divorce.
That is, why we purposefully use the term Difficult Divorce, as we know from experience, how important it is to hold our attention on the cause of negotiating difficulties: one difficult individual’s psychological presentation.
We do not use the terms ‘high-conflict’ or ‘contentious’ divorce because when we use these terms we unthinkingly begin to distribute the blame equally between both parties for the lack of any negotiation progress – which is not the case in these types of divorces.
Instead, what we find is one individual who is strategically and consciously stalling, evading, lying, and manipulating the process for their own ends. To forget this, is be ignorant to the power and procedural tactics which will be being utilised.
2. Who wants to end a Difficult Divorce?
Difficult Divorces last significantly longer than the average. A typical divorce is completed in under 12 months, whilst Difficult Divorce often last many years.
Whilst there is clearly an impact on timelines caused by court waiting times and procedural matters, it is important to understand that the main issue is that difficult people are not working towards the same desired outcome.
Most couples on separation want to deal with the administrative issues as quickly as possible to avoid prolonged disruption and distress. They are motivated to move away from pain and towards new life possibilities. This is not the case for Difficult Individuals.
They are instead motivated to remain in prolonged power play with their ex-partners and will utilise court as a means to ensure this happens. Should an agreement be reached, they will lose the means through which they engage in a strategy of control and dominance.
As a result, whilst one party is desperately seeking resolution; the difficult party will be using any means possible, no matter how observably irrational, to maintain in the ‘game’.
3. Who is working for the benefit of the child?
Thankfully, the vast majority of separating parent are concerned for the welfare and ongoing life stability of their children. However, once again in the case of difficult individuals this is not the case.
As discussed above, Difficult individuals work with different parameters when it comes to negotiation – they are motivated to compete and gain power advantages. It is unfortunately not very difficult for us to see why children would serve as important leverage for them within this context.
Much of the information which is publicised on protecting children during and after divorce whilst well-intentioned, is not targeted to the cohort who is creating the issues – those reading these materials are generally those trying to mitigate the damage done to their children by these difficult people.
It is important to recognise that when a parent who has little history of engaged childcare prior to the divorce is now refusing to consider less than 50% contact in mediation, the likelihood is that this is a powerplay and nothing else.
When a parent is unable to return school clothes, changes agreed timetables, doesn’t show up at arranged times, yet is regularly utilising family court to demand their parental rights; this is a good sign they are motivated solely to utilise the court as a means of control.
Difficult Individuals do not understand that rights come responsibilities, and will regularly cause psychological, and far too frequently, physical harm to their children in order to hurt their partner by proxy.