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Co-Parenting During And After Divorce: Strategies for High-Conflict Situations

Dealing with difficult co-parenting dynamics is never easy, and it's especially challenging when you're going through a divorce and happen to share parental responsibilities with a high-conflict co-parent.

This discussion between divorce prep coach Alex Beattie, A.K.A. The Divorce Planner, and co-parenting coaches and family mediators, Jan and Jillian Yuhas, sheds light on how to navigate high-conflict co-parenting scenarios.

Here's a breakdown of what you'll learn about in the conversation:

Meet the Experts: Insights from Jan and Jillian Yuhas

Based in Dallas, these co-parenting specialists excel in high conflict situations. Their unique background in psychotherapy makes them well-qualified for mediating challenging family dynamics, especially when dealing with psychological manipulation. They guide co-parents through the divorce process, focusing primarily on child-centred solutions.

Common Issues in High-Conflict Co-Parenting

The most common issues in high conflict co-parenting arise when one parent holds vital information or exhibits aggressive behavior, often attacking the character of the co-parent rather than focusing on the child. Such situations often result in circular conversations, leaving the other party feeling powerless, anxious, and manipulated.

Spotting High-Conflict Co-parenting Signs

A high-conflict co-parent continuously stirs conflict, derailing decision-making processes, and causes distress in the co-parenting relationship. Pay attention to the feeling of losing sanity or having no voice in conversations. Listen to what your body is telling you — feelings of frustration, anger, or powerlessness are an indication that the dynamic is not healthy.

High-Conflict Co-Parenting Strategies

Jan and Jillian emphasized staying focused on the primary subject during discussions. It's crucial to resist the bait the high conflict co-parent tosses out, hoping to divert attention. They highlighted the importance of providing detailed parenting plans, addressing every concerning point to reduce potential manipulation.

Specifically, with high-conflict individuals having rigid thinking patterns, explicitly defining terms can help curb manipulation and conflict. Ensure that your parenting plan addresses not only the issues at hand but also predicts and provides contingencies for future scenarios. The more specifically you lay out your plan, the smoother your co-parenting journey will be.

Creating Effective Parenting Plans

A few key areas often overlooked while creating a parenting plan during divorce include:

  1. Communication for Urgent and Non-Urgent Matters

  2. Primary Residency & Education

  3. Traveling Details – Who would hold the passport? Who would be traveling with the child?

An important note is to ensure that the parenting plan specifies time frames and platforms for communication, also detailing the shared expenses and the timeline for reimbursement. It's always critical to have all these facts written down for future reference.

Co-parenting with High-Conflict Personalities (Also Known As Narcissists)

Co-parenting with a narcissist is challenging but possible. The key is to be strategic in your responses, making them feel as if they are in control of the decision. Presenting two choices that work for you helps to reduce their innate defensive mechanism, making co-parenting manageable.


Co-parenting after divorce requires constant negotiation, communication, and adaptability. For high-conflict situations, the strategy and approach need to be even more refined and strategic. With the right guidance and support, co-parenting no longer has to be a source of relentless stress; instead, it can become a pathway to a new mode of family functioning.


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