What is a High Conflict Divorce?

Divorce can be a messy process. The reason most couples in California get divorced is that they no longer get along – so it is no surprise that couples often fight about the terms of the divorce itself. If you have a high-conflict divorce, also known as a contested divorce, it is important to protect your rights by hiring an attorney to represent you. If you want to arm yourself with the highest level of expertise and legal care, choose a lawyer who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS).

Can Certified Family Law Specialists Help in High-Conflict Divorces?


A high-conflict or contested divorce case is not something to take lightly. It means you may be facing a long, arduous and costly legal battle. You and your lawyer will have to go up against your spouse and his or her legal representation to fight for the terms that you want. It is common for high-conflict divorce cases to go to trial since neither party is willing to compromise. The best way to protect yourself is with a Certified Family Law Specialist. 


A CFLS is a family law attorney who has been certified by the California Board of Legal Specialization, the State Bar or a similar organization with a certification program. To obtain this certification, the attorney must go beyond standard licensing requirements by continuing his or her education in family law, passing a written examination in this legal specialty, having comprehensive experience in family law, and achieving a favorable evaluation by a panel of attorneys and peers.


A CFLS can be invaluable during a high-conflict divorce case. He or she will have the knowledge and skill to come up with creative solutions for challenges and points of contention in your divorce, such as child custody and complex property division. A CFLS can facilitate more open-minded and productive conversations with your spouse during mediation to decrease the risk of your divorce case going to trial. If you do end up in court, a CFLS will provide exceptional legal representation as an experienced trial lawyer.

Do High-Conflict Divorces Take Longer Than Amicable Divorces?


Yes. The opposite of a high-conflict or contested divorce is an amicable or uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on all of the terms of the divorce so the case doesn’t have to go to trial. The couple creates a settlement agreement on their own – including a parenting time plan if the couple has children – and a judge will sign off on its terms, in most cases. This finalizes the divorce and ends the case without lengthy negotiations or a costly court battle. A high-conflict divorce, on the other hand, has to go through months or sometimes years of hearings and conferences.

What Are Common Signs of High-Conflict Divorce?


It is in your best interest as someone getting divorced to strive for an amicable split. Achieving an uncontested divorce can save you a great deal of time, stress and money. It can also keep you and your spouse in control of the outcome instead of giving critical decisions to a judge. Finally, achieving an amicable divorce will keep the details of the dissolution private, whereas a trial is public record. You may have a high-conflict divorce if your relationship involves:

  • Deceit
  • Adultery
  • Blame 
  • Argumentativeness
  • A desire for revenge
  • Domestic violence
  • Certain mental illnesses
  • Violation of court orders
  • An unwillingness to compromise
  • Helicopter parenting

Noticing the signs of a high-conflict divorce early on can allow you to properly prepare for the legal process ahead. If you believe you are headed into a high-conflict divorce case in California, contact the Certified Family Law Specialists of Boyd Law for assistance without delay. We will get to know you, identify your goals and take the steps that are necessary to help you achieve them.