Navigating High-Conflict Family Matters: Legal Insights for Challenging Times

Picture this: You’re sipping your morning coffee, and the kids are bickering over who gets the last piece of toast. Suddenly, your phone chimes with a message from your ex, setting off a whirlwind of emotions that leaves you wondering if you’ve mistakenly stumbled into an episode of a never-ending soap opera.

In a world where chaos and confusion reign supreme, high-conflict family matters can sometimes feel like a rollercoaster ride with no exit. But fear not! We’re here to guide you through this wild journey and offer tips and tricks to help you keep your sanity intact.

Navigating High-Conflict Family Matters

Why Keep Reading?

Because we’re diving deep into the realm of high-conflict family dynamics, offering practical advice, emotional support, and strategies to help you emerge from the chaos with your sanity intact. So, fasten your seatbelt and let’s tackle this rollercoaster together!

What Causes High Conflict Custody Cases

High-Conflict Family Chaos and How to Keep Your Sanity: A Rollercoaster of Emotions

The ongoing challenges faced by families in our area and across the nation have given rise to a significant degree of fear and stress. Beyond the disruption of our daily lives, concerns related to work stability, the health of our loved ones, and the uncertainty surrounding future events have affected people worldwide over recent months. Families in southeast Texas who are subject to court orders impacting their lives can encounter additional complications.

Many of these families consist of parents who have difficulty getting along with each other, a situation that was evident during their separation or divorce and persists today. When parents have high-conflict interactions, it becomes even more crucial to prioritize their children’s well-being and set aside personal grievances and reservations about their former spouse or partner.

In this blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will address families grappling with challenging family dynamics and the circumstances of our time. Stay composed and maintain hope that you can navigate these circumstances to reach a resolution that benefits your family.

How Do You Win a High Conflict Custody Case

Challenges in High-Conflict Child Support Scenarios

If you find yourself in a constant dispute with your ex-spouse to whom you owe child support, you are dealing with a particularly volatile situation. Aside from child-related issues, financial matters are likely a significant source of conflict in your relationship. Unfortunately, financial problems are not far behind health concerns when it comes to the challenges brought about by current circumstances.

Facing the inability to pay child support due to income loss or reduction can be distressing. For many of us, our self-esteem and self-image are closely tied to our work and the income it provides. An abrupt halt in work or income can affect our sense of self-worth and our ability to support our families.

It’s important to note that child support obligations continue despite the current challenges. While an income loss may justify a request for a child support order modification, you remain bound by the child support amount specified in your most recent court order until a judge rules otherwise. With each passing month, the unpaid amount accumulates, potentially increasing frustration for your ex-spouse.

Challenges in High-Conflict Child

Although local courts may be operating under limited conditions, the child support offices in your county or region are likely still operational. You can reach out to the Office of the Attorney General to request a review of your application for possible reduced payment obligations. Keep in mind that many others in our area may also be seeking child support relief, so it might take some time for your request to be processed.

Regarding modifications, you can initiate the process by applying through your local child support office. A representative from the attorney general’s office can engage in negotiations with you and your child’s other parent to determine revised child support obligations and payment plans. If an agreement is reached, the attorney general will draft amended child support orders for all parties to sign.

If you become eligible for unemployment benefits, it is likely that a portion of those benefits will be allocated toward child support payments. Additionally, you will likely need to communicate with your child’s other parent to inform them of your job loss or reduced income, as it may be mandated by your existing court orders.

Courthouse Status and Seeking Hearings

You may have received communication regarding an upcoming hearing from your attorney, your ex-spouse’s attorney, or directly from the court. While specific courthouse status updates for every area are not provided here, in general, most courts are prioritizing hearings for emergency matters or issues requiring immediate resolution.

If your high-conflict family matter requires swift resolution by a judge, consider these steps:

  1. Consult with a Family Law Attorney: Discuss your situation with a family law attorney familiar with the specific court handling your case for guidance on the court’s current operations and the likelihood of scheduling your hearing.
  2. Regularly Check with the Court: Stay in touch with the court by making periodic phone calls to inquire about updates regarding the reopening of the courthouse for regular business. Some courts may have rescheduled hearings set for April and May to later dates.
  3. Exercise Patience: Understand that the resolution of your high-conflict family law matter may be subject to the timeline of current circumstances. Patience may be required as you wait for the court to provide more certainty about the next steps.
Pros and Cons of a Consultation with a Lawyer or a Consultant

Exploring Mediation Options

For those who were on the brink of concluding their family law cases in mid-March, the disruption caused by recent events has affected plans for mediation and reaching agreements. However, there are still mediation options available:

  1. Dispute Resolution Centers: In Harris County and many surrounding areas, dispute resolution centers offer mediation services at a reduced cost. While some of these centers may have temporarily closed alongside other government operations, there is optimism that many will reopen to the public in the near future.
  2. Private Mediators: Some private mediators may be willing to conduct mediation sessions through video and electronic means. They, too, have financial obligations and may be motivated to work with you to mediate your case during these challenging times.
  3. Consult Your Attorney: Your attorney likely maintains a list of preferred mediators for cases similar to yours. Typically, both parties will present a list of potential mediators, reach an agreement on one, and schedule mediation on a mutually acceptable date.

While the current circumstances present challenges for resolving high-conflict family law matters, seeking legal advice, staying informed about court operations, and exploring mediation options can help you navigate these complexities. Maintain patience and adaptability as we all look forward to a return to more normal conditions.

Exploring Mediation Options

Beginning the Divorce Process with a High-Conflict Spouse:

Filing for divorce itself has not undergone significant changes in the current environment. You can visit your county’s district clerk’s website to review the requirements and check for recent updates. However, it is essential to anticipate that the divorce proceedings timeline will likely be extended due to closed buildings, court backlog, and a population facing health challenges.

As previously discussed, many courts are currently prioritizing emergency matters. If your divorce case does not involve elements of violence or immediate danger, temporary orders hearings may be postponed. Seeking guidance from your specific court and checking the frequently asked questions section of the clerk’s website can provide valuable updates on court proceedings.

Dealing with a Violent Spouse in a Shared Residence:

Regrettably, some individuals find themselves in the difficult situation of being confined at home with an abusive spouse due to stay-at-home orders. In cases where you are in immediate danger or facing violence, prioritize your safety by contacting 9-1-1 or local authorities. In such situations, reaching out to an attorney or court should not take precedence over ensuring your well-being.

It is crucial to establish a safety plan with the assistance of family members, friends, or neighbors if you are concerned about the potential for violence from your spouse. Having a system in place that enables you to move to a safe location if necessary is essential.

Dealing with a Violent Spouse in a Shared Residence

Conflict Over Work and Child’s Well-being:

For those working in fields like healthcare or retail, with daily exposure to individuals who may have health concerns, your ex-spouse might consider filing a motion to restrict your child’s visitation out of concern for their well-being. The possibility of this will depend on the specific circumstances of your case.

Consider factors such as pre-existing medical conditions of the parties involved and whether a temporary order could be applicable. Communicate these concerns with your attorney to work towards a resolution that prioritizes your child’s safety and well-being while addressing the unique challenges posed by the current situation.

Navigating High-Conflict Family Matters During Challenging Times

In today’s tumultuous world, families across the nation are facing unprecedented challenges that bring with them a significant degree of fear and stress. Beyond the disruptions to our daily lives, concerns related to work stability, the health of our loved ones, and the uncertainty surrounding future events have affected people worldwide over recent months. Families, especially those in high-conflict situations, are finding themselves navigating a complex terrain. In this article, we will delve into strategies and resources to help you navigate high-conflict family matters during these challenging times.

Navigating High-Conflict Family Matters During Challenging Times

Coping Strategies for High-Conflict Parents

For parents entrenched in high-conflict situations with their former partners, managing emotions and communication can be akin to walking on a tightrope. It’s crucial to prioritize your children’s well-being and set aside personal grievances and reservations about your ex-spouse. Here are some practical coping strategies:

  • Stay Calm and Composed: Emotions often run high in high-conflict situations, but maintaining your composure is essential. Avoid escalating conflicts and focus on constructive communication.
  • Seek Support: Reach out to friends, family members, or a therapist to vent your feelings and gain emotional support. A support system can be invaluable during challenging times.
  • Utilize Mediation: Consider mediation as a way to facilitate communication with your ex-partner. A neutral mediator can help both parties find common ground and resolve disputes.

Emotional Support for Children

High-conflict family situations can take a toll on children’s emotional well-being. Parents can play a crucial role in providing the necessary support. Here’s how:

  • Open Dialogue: Encourage open and honest conversations with your children about their feelings. Let them express their concerns and fears.
  • Therapy or Counseling: If needed, consider professional therapy or counseling for your children. Mental health professionals can help them cope with the emotional challenges they may face.
  • Maintain Routine: Stick to a consistent daily routine to provide stability and predictability for your children. Knowing what to expect can offer comfort.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods

When traditional litigation fuels conflicts further, alternative dispute resolution methods can be a game-changer:

  • Arbitration: Consider arbitration, where a neutral third party makes binding decisions. It can be faster and more cost-effective than going to court.
  • Collaborative Divorce: In collaborative divorce, both parties work together with their attorneys to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. This approach often results in less animosity.





A process where a neutral third party makes binding decisions.

Faster resolution, cost-effective, less adversarial, maintains privacy.

Collaborative Divorce

Both parties work with their attorneys to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.

Reduces animosity, preserves relationships, fosters cooperation.


A neutral mediator helps both parties find common ground and resolve disputes.

Promotes communication, cost-effective, empowers parties to find solutions.


Parties engage in direct discussions to reach agreements without court involvement.

Maintains control, flexibility, preserves privacy, often quicker.

Online Dispute Resolution

Using online platforms for resolving conflicts, suitable for less complex issues.

Convenient, accessible, time-saving, can be cost-effective for certain cases.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods

Co-Parenting Plans

One effective way to minimize conflicts in high-conflict situations is through comprehensive co-parenting plans:

  • Clear Communication: Create a co-parenting plan that clearly outlines schedules, responsibilities, and decision-making processes. This reduces ambiguity and potential sources of conflict.
  • Put Children first. Always prioritize your children’s well-being when making co-parenting decisions. This can help prevent conflicts from arising.
Co-Parenting Plans

Financial difficulties can exacerbate high-conflict family matters. In such cases, legal aid and pro bono services can be a lifeline:

  • Legal Aid Organizations: Research available legal aid organizations in your area that offer assistance to individuals facing financial hardships during family disputes.
  • Pro Bono Attorneys: Some attorneys offer pro bono services to clients in need. Explore this option to obtain legal representation.

Child Custody Evaluation

In high-conflict custody disputes, child custody evaluations can provide a way forward:

  • Understanding the Process: Familiarize yourself with the child custody evaluation process, which typically involves interviews, assessments, and observations by professionals.
  • Informed Decision-Making: The evaluation can provide valuable insights into the best interests of your child, helping both parties make informed custody arrangements.
child custody evaluation

Domestic Violence Resources

For those facing domestic violence in high-conflict situations, safety is paramount:

  • Contact Local Authorities: In cases of immediate danger or violence, do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1 or local authorities.
  • Hotlines and Shelters: Seek out local domestic violence hotlines and shelters for support and protection. They can offer guidance and safe havens for those in need.

Technology and Virtual Visitation

Health concerns or restrictions may prevent physical visitation, but technology can bridge the gap:

  • Virtual Visitation: Consider virtual visitation options like video calls and messaging to maintain contact with your children when physical visitation is not possible.
  • Coordinating with Your Ex-Spouse: Work with your ex-spouse to establish a schedule for virtual visitation that respects both parties’ needs.

Parenting Classes and Co-Parenting Education

Building effective co-parenting skills is crucial in high-conflict situations:

  • Enroll in Parenting Classes: Consider taking parenting classes, which can provide valuable insights and strategies for effective co-parenting.
  • Co-Parenting Education Programs: Many educational programs focus on co-parenting. These programs can help both parties develop better communication and parenting skills.
Parenting Classes and Co-Parenting Education

Impact of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can further complicate high-conflict family dynamics. Seeking help is essential:

  • Recognize the Issue: Acknowledge the impact of substance abuse on your family and the need for intervention.
  • Seek Professional Assistance: Consult with addiction specialists and consider rehabilitation programs to address substance abuse issues.

Financial Planning During Crisis

In times of income loss or reduction, financial planning becomes paramount:

  • Budgeting: Develop a budget that aligns with your current financial situation. Cut unnecessary expenses and prioritize essential bills.
  • Government Assistance: Explore government assistance programs that can provide financial support, especially concerning child support obligations.
Financial Planning During Crisis

Long-Term Effects on Children

High-conflict family situations can have lasting effects on children’s well-being:

  • Seek Professional Help: If you notice behavioral or emotional changes in your children, consult with child psychologists or therapists for guidance.
  • Create a Supportive Environment: Foster a loving and supportive environment at home to help children cope with the long-term effects of high-conflict situations.

Navigating high-conflict family matters during challenging times requires a combination of effective communication, support systems, and access to appropriate resources. By implementing coping strategies, seeking emotional support for children, exploring alternative dispute resolution methods, and utilizing available resources, you can navigate these complex waters while prioritizing the well-being of your family. Remember, you are not alone, and there are tools and professionals available to assist you in finding a path forward.

High-Conflict Family Chaos and How to Keep Your Sanity: A Rollercoaster of Emotions”

So there you have it, our whirlwind journey through the ups and downs of high-conflict family matters during these challenging times. We’ve covered everything from taming the tempestuous tiffs with your ex to ensuring your little ones emerge from this chaos unscathed.

Remember that navigating high-conflict family matters isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon filled with unexpected twists and turns. But just like on a rollercoaster, it’s the journey that counts, not just the destination.

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