5 Reasons Why Some Divorces are High-Conflict

Illinois Divorce Attorney

Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful experiences in life, and it often brings out the worst in people. It is bad enough when partners agree to be civil, but when divorce degenerates into a high-conflict one, it can become unbearable and destructive to all parties involved.

Spouses undergoing high-conflict divorce often clash, fight, and show hostility in almost every situation.  They frequently take each other to court and may take out restraining or no-contact orders and accuse their partner of domestic violence, physical abuse or sexual abuse. They may use children as bargaining chips and hide or destroy assets just to keep their ex from getting them.

Going through a divorce is always stressful, but the aggravation increase when spouses can’t resolve their differences rationally.  When one partner or both are out of control, and conflict escalates to the point of war, everyone loses.

If you find yourself involved in a high-conflict divorce, you need the help of an experienced family law attorney.  The skilled and compassionate Illinois divorce attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. know the courts, the laws, and the system and understand the reasons conflicts escalate. We provide steadfast, aggressive representation for clients in spouse-war situations.

We offer a free consultation, so contact us online or call our offices today.

Areas of Conflict

The following are areas where high conflict occurs most often:

  • Money– After a divorce, money that supported one household now has to support two, so divorcing partners may fear there won’t be enough or that they are not getting their fair share. Instead of working out a settlement over how much child support and maintenance is reasonable and how it is spent, spouses will fight over every expense that arises and every item to be divided.  They may watch over what their ex is spending, or each may try to outspend the other, creating additional problems.
  • Children– Children are often pulled in two directions when parents are in a high-conflict divorce. Parents are legally required to come up with a written parenting plan that covers how they will share parenting time and who should have the greater say in life issues that include education, religion, activities, medical care and friends, so there are endless issues to fight about.  Often parents feel differently about rules and have different parenting styles or will try to prove they are the “better” parent or act like a friend instead of providing discipline and guidance. They may attack the other parent to the child and try to get the child on their “side.” All of this is damaging to the child and lessens the chance of parents’ cooperating or ever having a civil relationship.
  • Possessions– Who gets the house and the car are big ones, but spouses may fight about every little item despite the consequences in time, stress, and cost. They may try to hide assets or even damage them in order to prevent the spouse from getting them.
  • New relationships– When a spouse begins dating, jealousy raises its ugly head. This can be particularly problematic when children are involved and one spouse sees the “new person” taking over parenting roles and earning children’s affection. High-conflict parents may badmouth the new individual to their children, creating additional conflict.
  • Revenge– High-conflict divorcing spouses often seek revenge and go to great lengths to get even, trying to ruin their ex’s reputation with children, friends, family, and even at work.  They may initiate frequent court actions and involvement of third-party investigators, which raises legal and court costs and drags out the time the divorce takes to resolve. They may hurt themselves just to get revenge on their spouse.

How to Lessen Conflict

While you can’t control your spouse’s behavior, there are steps you can take to help minimize conflict and to help keep yourself from getting sucked into another drawn-out battle.

  • Limit the amount of contact you have with your spouse, as high-conflict personalities will use any time with you to escalate conflict.
  • Learn to be assertive and stand up for yourself. Take responsibility for your own life and learn to manage your anger instead of blaming your spouse for everything. Let go of the past and start planning the future.
  • Set up boundaries in regard to children, discussing parenting business and nothing else. The future of your children is at stake.
  • Obtain proper legal assistance. High-conflict divorce situations can be overwhelming, making it all the more necessary to obtain proper legal help. A skilled divorce lawyer can make the difference between an amicable split and a drawn-out and costly battle.


The experienced and compassionate family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., understand the problems and stresses of high-conflict divorce. We focus on our clients’ needs and work to resolve the particular issues they are facing without escalating the conflict. We offer a free consultation to discuss your individual situation and determine the best way to help.

Take the first steps toward making your situation better by contacting us online or calling to schedule your free consultation with the experienced family law team at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd.  We’re here to help, so contact us today.

Attorney Natalie Stec

Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her practice has been concentrated in significant pre and post decree marital and family law cases; including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. She has important criminal defense experience in both misdemeanor and felony cases. She is a very dedicated and passionate litigator. [ Attorney Bio ]