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Author Topic: High Conflict Ex  (Read 10214 times)

BeKind

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High Conflict Ex
« on: May 08, 2012, 05:42:22 PM »
I have been divorced for a few months now. We have an almost 5 year old son and have joint physical and legal custody. 50/50 one week on, one week off arrangement. I have so much on my mind about this I am grateful to have found this forum.

1. My ex is an extremely high conflict person. I am completely the opposite and avoid conflict in every manner. I feel sometimes as though it is impossible for us to co-parent. I have limited any conversation between the two of us to only being about our son and only through email. I had to change my cell phone number just to avoid his harassing text messages. I have also had issues with his mother, including a protective order. I live with my boyfriend, whom my son loves, but this arrangement is just another thing that my ex has an issue with. My ex has repeatedly said inappropriate things to our son regarding my bf, including asking if he "touches him" which upset my son extremely. One instance, my son told my ex that my bf had spanked him (which he never has, they are never alone together as I understand this is a concern of my ex's) and later my son admitted he was lying. Upon hearing this, I spoke to my son regarding how his lies can hurt people and that he needs to be sure to tell the truth but that he could always tell me if anything ever bothered him or if anyone ever hurt him, including my bf. My son has actually asked that we no longer talk about my bf, to which I completely respect. I can tell he honestly feels put in the middle of it. Any time my ex and I have anything to discuss regarding our son, it always ends in emails with him calling me names, insulting myself or my bf, etc. I have repeatedly asked him not to do that and do not respond any further if he cannot have an appropriate conversation. I keep documentation of EVERYTHING, including recording every pick up/drop off of our son. There is always conflict, of which I can prove absolutely none is brought upon by me. My bf completely stays out of it and has zero contact with my ex in any way. My question here is, are there any suggestions of ways to get him to come around to putting our son first and stop with all of the conflict? If not, what can I do about this legally? I expect in the near future he is planning to move out of state which will require us to go back to court as is in our divorce agreement.

2. We constantly have issues over our custody arrangement. As stated, it is 50/50 with one week on, one week off. We also have a holiday schedule. Any time there is a holiday schedule change, I email him asking how he would like to arrange for exchanging our son, most times we usually just have the receiving parent pick him up from daycare that day. I am the kind of person who likes everything to be planned out ahead of time so we don't run into these conflicting situations. He continues to not want to abide by the court agreement, so we end up going back and forth about it for days. We currently have the issue of Mother's Day as our agreement states I will have our son the Friday before Mother's day after school recesses until 6pm on Mother's day. As our son is not yet in school, he is arguing about the time we exchange him.

We also have the issue of right of first refusal. I have only needed to use a sitter twice since our divorce, both times I gave him right of first refusal and let him take our son overnight, even though I only needed someone for a few hours. So in essence, I am giving him more time than I would have had him at a sitter. He constantly has a changing work schedule which means working nights at least 1-3 nights per week. He almost never gives me right of first refusal for this even though it is stated in our decree. What can I do about this? I have documented each time as well as emailed him about it as soon as I found out that my son was with someone other than me, particularly when I had time off from work. He has also done this when our son's daycare lady was out of town and did not notify me. I mainly have an issue with when he works nights as I don't want my son sleeping at someone else's house and being taken home in the middle of the night when he could be with me in his own bed. At what point do I say enough is enough and have him held in contempt for not following the agreement? Is there anything else I can do?

3. My ex is in the military and has plans to get out in the next year. I know his intentions are to move back to where his family is. I currently have an issue with my ex's mother. There was a temporary protective order in place for stalking and harassment. We recently went to court over this, to which the judge issued a verbal order that she is not to contact me for the next few months until we go back to court again. We do have it written into our agreement that if one of us wants to move out of state, we have to go back to court. So I know I can expect this. What should I be doing in the meantime to prepare for this?

4. I constantly feel as though I need to give in to what my ex wants, just to avoid the impending conflict and arguments. I try my hardest to comply with his requests, ie. limiting video game time, having our son call him before bed each night (which I am not required to do), etc. Nothing in particular that I really disagree with. I just feel like he has so much control over my life, moreso than even when we were married. How do you separate all of this but still coparent and try to avoid the constant arguments that he starts?


Simplydad

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Re: High Conflict Ex
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2012, 09:53:41 AM »
BeKind - First things first.....take a deep breath. It helps....I do it often...lol   I deal with the same kind of personality when it comes to my ex so I will do my best to help.


I will address each point.


1.   Take a moment and accept that no matter what you do your ex will not change.  He will always be a high conflict person. Once you accept that you will be able to deal with it a little better.  At least it worked for me.  You need to change how you communicate with him.  You need to be brief and concise in your communications. Ask simple question that will require only a simple response.  When your ex responds to your requests calling you names and attacking you....ignore it.  When you respond letting him know that it bothered you he has succeeded in his goal.  When you ignore him you take the power completely away from him.  He wants and needs the extra dialogue.  He feeds off of it.  Nothing drives a high conflict person crazy like being ignored.  When you blow off the insults and refuse to acknowledge them it will drive him nuts.  When you make a request to him and he goes on a tirade simply ignore everything and reply with a simple sentence that you are still waiting for a response to your question.


Your ex has no intention of leaving your son out of this.  I am not question his love for his child.  He is just having a hard time letting go of his anger.  He has not moved on. In situations like this one of the parents has to be responsible and try to protect the child the best they can.  In this case you appear to be that parent.  When yo have your son do not discuss anything concerning his father.  The only think you should say to your son is that is father loves him and that when your son is with you all you care about is that he is happy.  He does not need to be in grown up business and he needs to concentrate on being a kid.  This way when your son is with his Dad there is nothing that can be grilled out of him.  Never say anything negative about the father when your son is home.  Even the slightest thing can be taken as negative it does not have to be name calling or anything like that.  Your son loves you both dearly and children are a lot more intelligent than people give them credit for.  They will recognize the problem parent.....you just need to love him completely and let him know it.


2.  This is simple.  The only conflicts here are the ones you allow. If your custody arrangement is in writing you follow it to the letter if there is conflict. Plain and simple.  I agree there should be some allowance for flexibility and adults should be able to get together and have rational, respectful discussions but that is not always the case.   Keep your request short and concise.  If you can't reach an agreement state you will follow the order and end all communication.  Keep in mind that while you may want to have everything planned out your ex may not want to and you should try to respect that.  Not trying to be jerk about it but could not think of another way to put it.


The right of first refusal should not be a hard issue.  The order states you should have it and he needs to abide by it.  If he works nights then you should have your son.  If he does not comply you will need to file a motion for contempt if it is constant issue.  A few times in front of a judge on this matter will get his act together.  Too many times and he will find himself getting standard visitation and not the 50/50 as it is now.  The question that you should ask is do you feel it is a fight worth having.  Is it very often or just occaisionally?


3. If your ex plans on moving out of state it is something you both will have to deal with.  It is going to change the visitation order for sure.   Also since he is confrontational you may want to prepare yourself for a custody battle.  He will have a hard time with winning that but you need to prepare yourself.  If you feel this may be an issue you will want to really consider the contempt filings for the right of first refusal issue. 


4. While I understand giving in to prevent the conflict you have to ask yourself a very important question.  Is it in your son's best interest to constantly give in? What I mean by that is you should consider what impact your giving in will have on your son.  Arguments only happen if you allow them. An argument requires two people and if the other person is not biting than all you have is one person blowing hot air.  Also please remember that whatever goes on in your house is your business. Your ex has no say and unless it is detrimental to the welfare if your son he cannot demand anything either.  If you want to let your son spend an entire day playing Xbox one day than that is your business.  If you let your son play Xbox all day every day it could be a problem because it can affect his education because when will he do homework (I know he is only 5...thinking ahead) From what I am reading not only are you giving in you are also allowing your ex to tell you how to parent as well. 


When your son is with your ex does he have him call you every night to say goodnight?  Simple things like that make a world of difference.  He can't demand something and not do the same thing in return.


You are giving your ex control and the simple resolution to that is to just ignore him. When he tell you that you need to do this or do that.....ignore it.  When he gets mad at your lack of response....ignore that.....when he rants.....ignore that.....when he calls you names....ignore that......when he makes unreasonable requests....ignore that.........see the pattern? Replying to his negative, controlling responses give him control.  Ignoring them takes that control back.


Now.....another thing the confrontational person loves to do is make threats.  Ignore them.....a judge is not going to entertain an ex dragging you into court because they feel you let the kid play video games too much.   They are not going to listen to something so stupid as she will not have him call me every night like he asks.  All of that stuff is nonsense and judges hear that all the time.  What is most important is the welfare of the child.  As long as you take care of him there is nothing your Ex can do.


Hope this helps.

Kitty C.

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Re: High Conflict Ex
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2012, 10:05:51 AM »
Simplydad gave a VERY good response, since it is apparent he's been there, done that.  If I could add only one thing, it would be this:  when you look at the entire situation from the standpoint of perspective, consider this....when he LOVES his child more than he HATES you, things will get a whole lot better.  But that is only for him to decide.....
 
BT, DT, too.....
Handle every stressful situation like a dog........if you can't play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away.......

Waylon

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Re: High Conflict Ex
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2012, 11:38:03 PM »
Simplydad gave a VERY good response, since it is apparent he's been there, done that.

I agree 100%...excellent advice, and well said, Simplydad.
The trouble with reality is that there's no background music.

Waylon

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Re: High Conflict Ex
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2012, 11:50:23 PM »
Take a moment and accept that no matter what you do your ex will not change.  He will always be a high conflict person.

This is a critical point that many people have a hard time coming to grips with. Simplydad is spot-on...your ex is probably always going to be this way, and the sensible thing to do is a) recognize it for what it is and b) understand that this is how he's going to be no matter what you do.

Some people change, and some unfortunately do not. I spent years trying to reason with my ex and work amicably with her to no effect. She is just as difficult to deal today as she was 15 years ago.  My son is now 18 and my contact with his mother is minimal, but in all that time she never relaxed one bit. She didn't get better, she didn't get more reasonable, if anything she got worse.

Recognize that your ex is going to be in "permanent rampage mode" forever, and approach dealing with him on this basis.
The trouble with reality is that there's no background music.


Remi2

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Re: High Conflict Ex
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2012, 01:18:51 PM »
Simplydad gave a VERY good response, since it is apparent he's been there, done that.

I agree 100%...excellent advice, and well said, Simplydad.

I also agree 100% with Simplydad and Waylon.  They are absolutley right about everything!  In the beginning, I too tried to get along keep the peace and appease the other high-conflict parent to avail.  It took me a little bit (a couple of years) but I learned that no matter he is never, ever going to agree with anything I suggest.  I would give in or be flexible but he would never reciprocate.  And I would get caught in the back and forth emails.  I put a stop to all of that.  I stick to the CO like glue and I ignore everthing.  When I get an email ranting about this or that with the peppered insults and snide comments throughout I say to myself, 'Pfft...yeah, ok...whatever' and keep it moving.
 
Keep documenting everything and keep your emails (composed and/or replies) as breif as possible one to two sentences if you can.  Also try limit all your communications (preferably email only) to only if it is absolutely necessary.
 

BeKind

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Re: High Conflict Ex
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2012, 11:20:01 AM »
Thank you so much for the responses. For the most part I do just ignore anything he has to say. I have tried to keep my responses to a minimum. I guess I just get tired of it all sometimes. The Mother's Day stuff went just fine. I am assuming he realized that he had to follow the CO and didn't give me a hassle. I have decided that the phone calls to his father need to be limited to every other night at this point unless my son specifically asks to call his father. As long as he continues to make comments to our son as he has been (two nights ago it was telling our son that my house is not his home, only daddy's house is his home), I feel like they need to be limited. Our CO says I need to allow "reasonable phone calls" whatever that means. I think every other night is more than reasonable considering. I guess in the meantime I will continue to document everything. At this point, I am filing to hold him in contempt for not returning my property as specifically stated in our decree. I already have a file started on him documenting everything he says/does that is inappropriate or not following the CO. I am going to sit down and go through it to see just how many times he has violated the right of first refusal that I know of and if it seems to be out of hand I will be filing for that as well the next time he does it.

brwneyedmom

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Re: High Conflict Ex
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2012, 02:41:12 PM »
Our court order specified twice weekly phone calls from dad but son could call as often as he wanted. After dad made son cry at several bedtime calls over the location of a gameboy, I limited calls to before 6 PM so that son would have time to settle down before bed. I mean, son was VERY UPSET.  This gave DS 2 hours to calm down and start his bedtime routine. I just turned off the ringer after 6 PM.
With a high conflict ex, it's best to have everything including the kitchen sink, nailed down in the court order. If you can think of everything, that is. LOL

BeKind

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Re: High Conflict Ex
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2012, 11:59:33 AM »
Another quick question. I currently live with my boyfriend. It is only his name on the deed. Legally, am I able to tell my ex he is not allowed on the property? I limited the phone calls and told him I will no longer be answering the phone after 8pm when my son goes to bed. He is now saying if he does not hear from my son today (it has been 2 days that I did not answer) that he will show up at the house. I have told him in the past that he is not welcome there as he has threatened my boyfriend multiple times and always causes conflict. When he comes to pick up my son as part of our arranged schedule, I always wait with my son outside and have him pick him up at the end of the driveway so he can't even come to the door. I was hoping someone could tell me legally what are my rights as it is my boyfriend's property, however, it is my registered address.

Simplydad

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Re: High Conflict Ex
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2012, 12:32:18 PM »
Yes you can tell him that he his not allowed on the property.  Someone else's name on the deed has nothing to do with it.  You are a resident of the home and therefore have the rights as a resident.

I would simply tell your ex that if he shows up you will not answer the door and will call the police as soon as he shows up because you will consider that a threat.

Does your court order have something in it that mentions disturbing the peace? I think is standard in almost all instances where this is included.  Which is why some people show up with the constable to enforce visitation because they have a high conflict ex.

There is absolutely nothing he can do and if he pushes the issue can find himself charged with trespassing.

 

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