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Consequences of high-conflict divorce

Some Pennsylvania couples may find themselves in the middle of an acrimonious divorce. These high-conflict divorces can have a number of unwanted consequences. One is expense. One Associated Press article found that on average, litigation costs more than $77,000 compared with just under $20,000 for a collaborative divorce and just under $7,000 for mediation.

Family violence is also more likely in a high-conflict divorce. This violence can sometimes turn deadly. In 2013, a mother and her friend were shot in Delaware while waiting to attend a child support hearing while in 2011, a man killed eight people at his wife's workplace. The two had been embroiled in a conflict over custody.

However, even when conflict is running high, people may be able to opt for mediation. One hostage negotiator actually gave a talk on conflict resolution to mediators because the methods used in hostage negotiation are similar. Mediators understand the emotional aspects of divorce and can help guide a couple through those emotions toward a solution.

Within a couple, one or both people contribute to the conflict to varying degrees. Actions that ratchet up conflict include hiring an overly aggressive lawyer for the situation and insisting on litigation. By suggesting or agreeing to mediation, a person may have a less expensive and stressful and more satisfactory divorce settlement.

Whether mediation provides a solution or litigation is necessary, an attorney may be helpful. Mediation might be a particularly good approach if a couple is in conflict over child custody. Reducing conflict and learning to problem-solve is a good goal for any couple that will have to co-parent after divorce. On the other hand, in situations that involve domestic violence and similar issues, divorce litigation may be necessary.

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