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3 signs an ex’s personality isn’t right for collaborative divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2024 | Divorce |

Collaborative divorce can be a viable option for many people preparing to end a marriage. Instead of employing a standard adversarial approach, spouses agree to cooperate with one another even if they find it hard to agree. Either they or their lawyers may negotiate intensely. They might even undergo mediation as part of the collaborative divorce process. The goal of that effort is to resolve current disagreements about divorce outside of court. Collaborative divorce can be beneficial because it gives people more authority over the outcome of divorce and can potentially reduce conflict.

However, not every marital circumstance is a good fit for collaborative divorce proceedings. There are some warning signs people should not overlook when trying to decide if collaborative divorce would be in their best interest. What personality traits are contraindications for collaborative divorce?

Signs of Cluster B personality disorders

People sometimes decide to divorce because their spouse has shown signs of mental instability. Cluster B personality disorders are relatively rare when compared with other mental health issues, but they receive a lot of attention for good reason. Narcissistic personality disorder, for example, is a Cluster B disorder. What ties these conditions together is the chronic manipulative conduct of the person with the disorder. Someone who is highly intelligent and innately manipulative might not be a good candidate for collaborative divorce.

Highly erratic or irresponsible behavior

People can have mental health challenges that do not make them manipulative. Some people simply have issues with controlling their conduct, making them volatile and unpredictable. Someone who goes through manic phases followed by intense depression might eagerly negotiate one day and then lash out bitterly the next. In cases where people have displayed a history of erratic or seemingly spontaneous and strange conduct, collaborative divorce proceedings might be challenging at best and potentially unethical.

Aggressive or violent conduct

Collaborative divorce only works when both spouses treat each other with a baseline level of respect and dignity. In scenarios involving domestic violence, including emotional abuse, collaborative divorce proceedings may not be a realistic goal. Someone with a history of aggressive behavior or violence toward their spouse could potentially use threats or intimidation as a way of manipulating the collaborative divorce process. Both spouses need to feel as though they are on even footing for collaborative negotiation to work.

In cases where someone believes that their spouse has an incompatible personality, they may want to address the potential pitfalls of collaborative divorce with their attorney. It may be possible to adjust their legal strategy in a way that better protects them while divorcing someone who is unstable. Being realistic about what divorce solutions are appropriate may save people from scenarios in which they put themselves at a major disadvantage during collaborative divorce efforts. Those who recognize that collaboration is not always possible can choose the right path forward given their unique circumstances.