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Navigating Contentious Separations

Divorce is rarely a stress-free endeavor, but in contentious cases, the accompanying anxiety (and stakes) are even higher. Due to the unique pressures associated with a contested divorce, often relating to child custody disputes, domestic violence, financial misconduct,  and/or adultery, navigating these cases successfully requires your divorce attorney to have a specific set of skills: somewhere between advisor, mediator, and advocate. 

At ZFL, we offer compassion, and leverage our vast divorce and family law experience to help clients like you see the light at the end of the tunnel during the darkest of days. Our qualified team of Maryland attorneys is looking out for your best interest and will guide you through every step of your divorce until you reach your new beginning — from the moment you decide you're in an unhappy marital relationship and want out to the day your divorce is granted and beyond.


What Is High-Conflict Divorce?

Although it’s rare for a divorce to be a thoroughly amicable process, a high-conflict divorce is a specific divorce case characterized by an outright refusal on the part of one spouse (or both) to compromise very much or at all. In some cases, this is because one spouse doesn’t want to get divorced, or perhaps feels that they're owed more in the settlement. 

While the source of this type of obstinacy is often financially-driven, concerns over child custody can also provoke conflict. 

In other cases, however, the conflict is triggered by abusive behavior, such as domestic violence. When one spouse fears for their safety or well-being, serious legal matters are raised and if you find yourself in this situation, our experienced divorce attorneys can help you find a new location in which to reside, connect you with a counselor, seek applicable protective orders, and point you towards resources to receive any necessary medical treatment.  Finally, our attorneys are skilled in crafting safety plans to help you protect yourself as you move forward to your next steps.

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Factors That Contribute to a Contested Divorce

There are a number of factors that can contribute to a contested divorce, so it’s important to be aware of them before you decide to start a divorce case. Keep reading to learn what they are:

  1. Communication Issues: Poor communication can be one of the main causes of a high-conflict divorce. If both parties are unable to effectively communicate with each other, it can make it difficult to come to a mutual agreement on the terms of the divorce.
  2. Financial Issues: Money is one of the biggest sources of contention in a divorce. When one spouse is significantly more well-off than the other, it can cause issues when it comes to dividing up assets and debts.
  3. Child Custody Issues: Custody disputes are often the most contentious part of any divorce. If both parties are unable to agree on a custody arrangement, it can lead to a lengthy, drawn-out battle in court.
  4. Lack of Preparedness: If one or both parties are not adequately prepared for the divorce process, it can lead to an acrimonious divorce. This can include not having all the proper paperwork or not understanding the laws surrounding divorce. 
  5. Emotions: Emotions can play a huge role in a high-conflict divorce. If one or both parties are feeling hurt, angry, or resentful, it can lead to disagreements and divorce.

Whatever factors complicate your divorce, our skilled divorce attorneys can offer you the necessary legal services and knowledge to help you navigate this unsettling time.


How is a Contested Divorce Resolved?

Our experienced divorce attorneys here at Z Family Law can help resolve a contested divorce in numerous ways. One option for resolving a high-conflict divorce is mediation, where one of our trained mediation lawyers will act as a neutral third party and work with both sides to listen to their arguments and help them come to an agreement that both parties are comfortable with. In a divorce, the couple may have very different views on how the divorce should be handled, so mediation is a good option for reconciling differences and coming to an agreement to settle various aspects of the divorce such as spousal and child support, division of assets, and other related matters. This process is usually quicker than going to court, but it's still important for both parties to have legal representation during the process to ensure that they understand their rights and responsibilities under the law as a mediator cannot provide legal advice to either party.

Another way a family lawyer can help resolve this type of divorce is by representing one of the parties in mediation (in this case, the attorney would not act as a neutral third party but would instead focus on advocating for you), or in court. At Z Family Law we will represent you to ensure that your position is strongly advocated and that the court is aware of all relevant information and caselaw to make an informed decision.

Tips for Safeguarding Your Case During Contested Divorce

By nature, a contested divorce can provoke distressing exchanges and actions, which may be intended to elicit a response from you. But no matter how much you might be tempted to engage in a disagreement with your spouse, doing so could damage the strength of your divorce case. Since we know that taking the high road is sometimes easier said than done, we’ve compiled some suggestions on how best to handle the dramatics of divorce and custody disputes without jeopardizing your case in the meantime:


  • Keep Your Goals in Mind: Don’t get distracted by the antics of your spouse; instead, stay focused on your future and how keeping your calm will help you get there.

  • Refrain From Face-To-Face Interactions: While there are certainly exceptions to this rule, once a divorce has reached this level of animosity, it’s likely better to interact exclusively via an intermediary or in writing.

  • Lean on Your Divorce Attorney: During a contentious divorce, an experienced Maryland divorce attorney can act as your intermediary and help you weigh the pros and cons of any emotionally-charged decisions.

  • Be Willing to Compromise (To Some Extent): Stay firm on the issues that matter most to you, but know that even in the most acrimonious divorce, some level of compromise is always necessary. Instead of seeing it as a sign of weakness, remember that compromise, when executed rationally, can be the key to finally moving on with your life and settling your contested divorce.

  • Say no to Quack!

Finding the Right Divorce Attorney for You

As you navigate this challenging time, our trusted team of family lawyers can offer compassion and help you make rational well-guided decisions. After all, when it comes to writing your new happily ever after, the importance of finding strategic counsel focused solely on family law cannot be understated. By combining our vast legal experience, our tenured law team can design a tailored strategy to help you regain your power and build the new beginning you deserve.

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