With the COVID-19 Pandemic causing more people to work from home, the potential for marital conflict appears to increase.  Most divorce and family law cases that our divorce practice takes, which involve that the Court intervene in the case, involve some type of personality or emotional conflict between the parties. This means that litigation becomes protracted and the cost of the litigation becomes burdensome to the parties. Unfortunately, most of divorce attorneys involved in these type of cases do not have the professional training to resolve the issues. And, the Courts do not have the time or manpower to assist the attorneys to assist in resolving some of these serious emotional and mental health issues. That leave the litigants, especially with the stresses of COVID-19,  facing a lifetime of problems whether the issues involve the parents, children, or both the parents and the children.

As divorce attorneys, it is important for mental health professionals to get involved in the early stages of any family law case which will involve parties or children suffering mental health issues.   Furthermore, it is just as critical for the Court and attorneys to identify cases where there is a potential of creating further damage to individuals including parents and children by not identifying high conflict mental health issues.

As divorce attorneys, we notice that parties who are suffering from some type of high conflict emotional or mental disorders often show signs of the disorder by having some of the following issues in their case:

Family violence is occurring in the family.

Destruction of marital property by either party.

Harassing of the other party.

Mental or physical abuse of the children.

Drug abuse.

Using the children as weapons against each parent.

Fabricating allegations of child physical or sexual abuse.

Fabricating allegations of physical abuse against the other parent.

Turning family against the other spouse.

Most high conflict spouses will generally never accept any part of the blame for the breakup of the marital relationship.  And with the COVID-19 Pandemic, many spouses are using the pandemic to abuse or deny the other spouse access to children under the pretext that the pandemic allows them to violate possession orders.   The person will almost always blame and target the other spouse as the cause of the breakup or the cause of the financial or emotional conflicts that arise in the marital relationship. In turn the individual who is suffering the mental conflict will make matters worse by blaming the other spouse or their families for the continuing marital problems which lead to the filing of legal action such as a divorce or a suit for sole custody of children. Along with the targeting of others, the person will further exaggerate the problem by filing frivolous pleadings or even getting to the point of committing family violence against the other spouse or the children of the marriage.   Verbal abuse is almost always present in these type of cases. Most of these individuals strike out in any way they can against the person they believe is the cause of their problems be it emotional, marital, financial, or sexual problems.

Even worse, the person suffering from high conflict mental issues will start to get others including family, friends, co-workers, teachers to get them to advocate their position contrary to the other party’s position. These people will actively seek others to sympathize with their beliefs that the other party or the other spouse is the one who is creating the problems in the marriage or in the relationship.   Unfortunately, this exacerbates the tension between all parties involve because of the fact that the other people that are brought into the arena are also going to take a negative position against the same parties.

A portion of individuals who suffer from these high conflict disorders have endured these ailments since their early childhood years. Accordingly, once these individuals are mature and enter into marriages or relationships will always blame the other spouse or party for their problems. They become so entrenched in their beliefs that they will always deny that they have anything to do with the problems. Many of them never seek mental health professionals who can help them with their issues. In fact many of them do not even admit that they have any type of disorder.

Many of these personality disorders or mental disorders start to affect people in other facets of their lives whether it is a work, with other family members, or inwardly.   People will began to suffer compulsive disorders and even self-destructive disorders that will consume the individual with external problems such as drug use or risky sexual behavior.   Mood swings and uncontrolled anger follow these individuals into their relationships. They become involved in such drastic mood swings that the whole relationship becomes like a roller coaster ride but with more serious consequences. These individuals will jump into relationships without any foundation for their success. They will quickly give up on the other party at the slightest sign that the other party is not fulfilling their expectations. They will then become demanding with others and will lash out at the other person when their demands are not met.   For the most part, these people are not in tune with reality when it comes to their marriages and subsequently have to consider a divorce attorney to explain what they believe to be the other spouse’s fault for the breakup of the relationship.

As a divorce attorney with The Barbosa Law Firm, P. C., we are always vigilant for mental health issues and high conflict individuals when we first initiate a conference with clients. During these high stress times with COVID-19, If we accept the case and proceed to file the case in Court, we make it a priority to make the Court aware of the mental health issues so that the Court can use its limited resources to direct the parties to appropriate mental health providers before the case goes deeper into the legal system.

If you or your family believe that you are involved in a high conflict marital situation because of the COVID-19 Pandemic or the stresses that accompany any divorce case, call The Barbosa Law Firm, P. C. and sit down with one of our experienced attorneys to outline for you the course of action that you should pursue before your situation gets to a point of irreversible damage.