top of page

High Conflict Divorce Court

Updated: Apr 2

Divorce happens and it can get messy. I think two of the hardest things for me to understand in a high conflict court case is:

1- How drastically the change occurred after the words I do are said at the altar. There is no longer a show to put on, they no longer need to bait the hook to lure you in (I'm sure this is not brought up in court.)

2- How we come to the conclusion that divorce is the answer. That we think things will be better off if and when we leave to seek sanity only to find out that the Ex dramatically worsened every aspect of our being, and the court system does not see this same person that we are dealing with outside their doors. Most court rooms don't even know the signs of coercive control or emotional abuse. We are not even allowed to label the abuser as a Narcissist nor is a phycologist. The word is not to be spoken at all!

My thoughts, we never fathomed that after we said I do that the person we "fell in love with" would become someone that we did not recognize. We never saw the light switch moment of clarity come on because our kindness and generosity and willing to always want to see the best in everyone out weighed the performance of a life time. The wheel of abuse started turning. The tiring days of trying to sort things out in our mind became too much and you had to let go for the sake of your own sanity. It was beginning to be to much. Maybe you thought of your children and that you could give them a better life outside of this one. Then the high conflict divorce process started. What you thought would possibly be an easier life became one riddled with anxiety and fear.

We became individuals that are now faced with emotions of doubt, fear and are a toxic storm riddled with anxiety and PTSD. We begin to seek counseling because we were a hot mess during our court room appearance and we deal with constant daily triggers and though it all it seems not one person believes you or can relate. You become alone! Your life all the sudden seems like it has been turned upside down and many think to themselves if I would have just stayed with the abuser I would at the very least be able to protect my child.

You walk into the court room with mounds of evidence to what you thought would for certain be a win only to find out after the judge gave his cold ruling and your ex walked in and gave the performance of a lifetime that from that moment forward things were never going to be the same. You turn to your family but they don’t understand because they don’t see him the way that you do. How could he ever do the things you are insinuating.

Judges have had a lack of knowledge for what a true high conflict divorce/custody case is truly about. The belief is that it takes two people to create the high conflict dynamic. When they hear your case, the concern really does not become what the other party did and how undeserving of custody they may be, but is based on how much time do you as the protective parent have that you can give up to the party asking for the time or in most cases the abuser. The wellbeing of the children has been sacrificed for what seems to be the norm across the United State of a 50/50 custody arrangement because no matter what form of abuse the child is enduring that person deserves to have custody in the court’s eyes.

The court rooms have failed our children and us as the protective parents. When our children gain the knowledge of the ruling after the presented evidence they had faith in to keep them safe or lack of ability to present, they have no hope that they will ever be helped causing issues not only at home but in their ability to use their voice at school to stand up for themselves and also never wanting to speak to the judge regarding their case again. They are now experiencing a level of trauma against their will that the judge deemed necessary. That child no longer feels heard, safe or valued. They no longer feel they have a voice because it was taken. They shared their views on what they believed in the court room but it was turned against them in the most vile way. A person who they were raised to believe would protect them and believe them has put them in a situation that will forever change the dynamic of who they are and were. Anxiety and fear end up enveloping them and hoping that the day never comes when they must step foot in the court room again. They lose all sight of standing up for themselves and what they believe in. It becomes a sad situation learning that this all could have been avoided had the evidence and truth been weighed in more heavily. These children don’t understand where they thought there was justice, hope and a system of protections it lies dead in the the hands of the abusers nation wide.

Custody is never a permanent thing, but the memories and damage done to our children is. The way that we present ourselves in court is important especially when it comes to documentation. The reason we have so many High Conflict Cases is because one individual wants to remain in control and does not have the best interest of the child in mind. We need the courts to begin to understand this.

We can make two changes to help our children. We can educate court officials by going to this website and filling out the information and sending it to your official directly and anonymously:

We can also build our evidence in a strategic way. Join me and sign up for a one hour gathering your truth session. Follow the link below to sign up:

16 Factors Judges Use in Pennsylvania Child Custody Cases

  1. Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent continuing contact between the child and other party involved? (courts want to see a positive relationship between parents)

  2. Is there any present/past abuse that has been committed? This could be by the parties or close relative. Is there a continued risk of harm to child? (Abuse is carefully weighed by the judge to ensure that the child is in a safe environment)

  3. What are the parental duties performed by each of the parties on behalf of the child? (The courts are looking to see what active roles you each play in the childs life)

  4. What is the need for stability and continuity in the child's education family life and community life? (Judge could advise here that it would be best for the child to stay in an environment that they are familiar with)

  5. What is the availability of extended family? (If you are a single parent the Judge may consider asking if extended family is near and could work in your favor)

  6. What are the child's sibling relationships? This includes both blood relation and emotional relationships. (courts like to keep siblings together)

  7. What is the preference of the child, this is based on child's maturity and judgement. (There is no age in PA for a child to be able to choose which parent or gauge level of maturity)

  8. Have there been any attempts by either party to turn the child against the other parent? (except in domestic violence cases where it is necessary to keep the child safe) Turning a child against the other parent is a huge concern in the eyes of the court.

  9. Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent, nurturing relationship that is beneficial to the childs emotional needs. (the past relationship between the parents and the child will be a deciding factor)

  10. Which party is more likely to attend the physical, emotional, developmental and educational special needs of the child (ren)?

  11. What is the distance between the parties residences? (this could impact the custody arrangement depending on how far/close each party lives)

  12. What is the availability of each party to care for the child or their ability to make child care arrangements?

  13. What is the level of conflict between the parties? Do they cooperate or are they willing to cooperate with each other?

  14. What is the history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a household?

  15. What is the mental/physical condition of a party or member of the household?

  16. What are other relevant factors that should be considered?

Disclaimer: This is not legal advise. These are the 16 factors that can be found when doing any google search and have been added to this blog for your convience. For more clarification or help please contact an attorney for legal advise.

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

We put so much faith and hope into a man or a woman wearing a black robe. When in fact they do not have the time to get to truly know the whole story of our lives. Your (ex) partner has had a lifetime