California parents who are going through a divorce or are already divorced need to recognize when their ex-spouse is a high-conflict parent. This may dictate their path forward or determine how they deal with the other parent. Unfortunately, they should know that it will likely eliminate the chances of an amicable co-parenting relationship, and they should go into self-preservation mode. In the meantime, it is important to spot the signs of a high-conflict parent.
A high-conflict parent will insist on escalating conflict at all times instead of resolving it. In some cases, they will actually seem like they enjoy the fight itself. They will often seem like they cannot control themselves, and their emotional reactions will seem highly disproportionate.
In almost all cases, someone else will be at fault for whatever situation a high-conflict parent finds themselves in. Invariably, it will be their ex-spouse who is to blame. Even if they seem like they are being empathetic, it will largely be a cover for their own self-absorption and agenda. Their main rule of thumb is that they act with vindictiveness. It will be difficult or impossible to appease this person or even work harmoniously with them. More likely than not, the high-conflict spouse will spark a series of court battles both now and in the future.
When dealing with a high-conflict parent and their level of vindictiveness, it may be vital to have an attorney as a level of protection. The attorney may help draft the divorce agreement in a way that protects the other parent from having to deal with nonstop discord. If the agreement is already signed, the attorney may help their client take the matter to court to obtain some sort of relief that would insulate them from the current level of conflict in the relationship.