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High-conflict ex-partner

Strategies for Co-Parenting with a High-Conflict Ex-Partner

Co-parenting can be difficult even in the best of circumstances but when you have a high-conflict ex-partner, co-parenting can be almost impossible. In this article, we will offer some amazing tips that will help you co-parent with a high-conflict ex-partner so that your kids can have their needs met, even if their parents are not getting along.

Put Yourself First

One thing that I want to start with is that you really need to focus on you. When you are dealing with a high conflict ex-partner, it is extremely easy to forget about yourself and making sure that your well-being is taken care of. Don’t put yourself in situations where you are trying to make him or her feel better all the time. And don’t feel that you have to engage with every single conflict that arises between you.

Remember to take time to destress after you’ve had to interact with your high conflict ex-partner by doing things that you love. Some suggestions are:

  • Go for a walk to clear your mind.
  • Talk to a therapist.
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise daily: try yoga for meditation.
  • Make sure you sleep every day

When you are taking care of your needs, you are more able to deal with those unavoidable high conflict interactions with your ex-partner.

Use a Mediation App

One of the best things that you can do when you are dealing with a high conflict ex-partner is to use some type of mediation service or a mediation app. One of my favorite is 2houses because they enable co-parents to do everything through the app instead of having to have face to fact meetings where the majority of the conflict occurs.

With 2houses, parents can plan the calendar, send notes, store documents and even follow an expense sheet. All of these features allows parents to reduce the amount of tension between them and since kids can also access the app, it helps keep all parents focused on neutral interactions whenever interacting on the app.

Set Boundaries with your Ex-Partner

Another useful strategy is to set boundaries with your ex-partner. You don’t need to know everything that is going on in his life and he doesn’t need to know everything that is going on in yours. Instead, focus on the kids and center all of your conversations on them and what is happening in their lives. The only time you mention your life is when it directly impacts the kids or visitation.

When you set boundaries, also make sure that you have boundaries on when your ex-partner can contact you. If you need to talk directly, set appointments. Make it a rule that you never have serious discussions at handoffs and never in front of the kids. Think of them as appointments even if it is through email or by phone. Let them know that you will only respond to emails during set hours and stick with that. Unless it is an emergency, ignore their phone calls, texts and emails if it is outside of those set times.

Choose Neutral Spaces

Whenever you have to meet with your ex, whether it is for mediation meetings, picking up your kids, etc., choose to do so in neutral spaces. Hand off at restaurants or places where you feel safe. If you and your ex have an extremely volatile relationship, bring a person who you can trust, or discuss having supervised or third party handoffs.

Do not invite your ex-partner to your home for these handoffs as it can be quite easy to fall into conflicts with your ex-partner when you are alone and somewhere private, even when the kids are there.

Have a Script

Conversations with your ex-partner can follow a script. You talk about the kids, what is happening with them and not about yourself. Any time the conversation turns toward something about you, or a high conflict topic, go back to that script and steer it back to the kids. Don’t flat out refuse to talk, but let them know that now isn’t the time and let’s set an appointment.

If the script isn’t working, leave the situation so it doesn’t become unsafe.

Use Parallel Parenting

If all else fails, one thing that you can try is to use parallel parenting. This is when you are both with the kids according to your arrangement but you do not interact together. Hand offs of the kids are done with a third party or a family member. All communication is done through emails or through a mediation app, as mentioned above, and you keep journals to focus on the kids alone.

With parallel parenting, you do many of the things that you would as a co-parent; however, you do them separately. For instance, any appointments or events that you would normally do together, you set up a second appointment or you alternate. One appointment you go, the other appointment your ex-partner.

Another way that you do parallel parenting is that you divide the decision making. Instead of both parents signing off on every decision, often common in co-parenting, one parent makes all the decisions in one area of the kids’ lives and the other parent makes all the decision in others. For instance, one parent makes the decision on house rules, the other makes decisions on school trips.

While you are still co-parenting, because you are minimizing contact, you are less likely to have high conflict experiences with your ex-partner. This helps keep everything focused on the kids and you can find ways to communicate without the stress that often comes with having a high conflict ex-partner.

As you can see, there are many different strategies that you can use to deal with a high conflict ex-partner in your co-parenting plan. However, that being said, it comes down to minimizing contact, making use of mediation and, above everything, taking care of your emotional well-being so that you have the energy to deal with the high conflict ex-partner. If you do all of those things, you have this and you and your kids will be all the better for it.

Why 2houses?

We are a co-parenting facilitator!


A calendar for everyone, getting organised when you’re divorced is a priority. 2houses provides you an online shared schedule, with many editing, adding, and sync features.


For us, as divorced parents, the financial topic is most of the time a conflict topic. Now, 2houses manages all expenses from each parent, keeps you informed on the situation, day after day, coins after coins.


Communication is key, this is why 2houses offers you an online messaging tool, simple, efficient and secure.


The journal is your quick family social network. You can easily share all information, news, photos, videos, and even your children’s funny quotes. The family is never far away, no matter where you are geographically located.

And many more features!

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