How Do I Know if I Have a High-Conflict Custody Case, and if so, What Can I Do About It?

How Do I Know if I Have a High-Conflict Custody Case, and if so, What Can I Do About It?

Custody cases can be either uncontested or contested. In uncontested custody cases, both parties agree on all issues, namely physical custody, child support and legal custody.  In contested custody cases, the parties are unable to agree on one or more issues. Contested custody cases range from mild disagreement on one or two issues to conflict on many, or even all, issues. 

This blog analyzes how a high-conflict custody in defined; how to know if you have one; and what you can do about it.  

The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines define “high conflict parties” as:  

Parties who have had ongoing disagreements and conflict. The disagreements and conflict center on the parties' inability to communicate and resolve issues regarding the care of the child, a parenting time schedule, or any other issues that have adversely affected the child.”

In plain English, you know you have a high-conflict custody case if you and your child’s other parent are unable to effectively communicate with one another to work out many or most of the details surrounding custody, parenting time, and other issues involving your child without court intervention.  Is this your case? 

Divorcing or splitting up is emotional and, understandably, may cause some conflict when attempting to raise your children in separate households. Most parents in this situation will have some controversy, but this levels out over time. What makes a case a high-conflict custody case is the inability to resolve most of the conflicts on your own.  Commonalities found among parents with high-conflict custody cases are some of the followings:  

  • Substance abuse of one or both parties 
  • Mental health issues of a parent 
  • Family or domestic violence the parent experienced as a child 
  • Child neglect or abuse of the parent as a child 


When one or more of these problems are the root-cause of the high-conflict custody case, it not normally possible to resolve the conflict on your own. These cases may require frequent court intervention to ensure that the children are “safe”, until the root cause is addressed through therapy and the like.   

Other times, however, the high-conflict custody case is a result of a simple inability to communicate about the children at all to resolve the issues. This is generally caused by one or more of the following:  

  • Hurt feelings 
  • Lack of communication skills 
  • Unreasonableness of one of the parties 
  • Inability or unwillingness to problem solve.  


These issues and/or signs underpin most high-conflict custody cases. If you believe you may have a high-conflict custody case, you probably do.  These causal issues aside, the outward manifestations you can look for that would indicate your case is a high-conflict custody case include the following:  

  • You have made every effort to, but are simply unable to resolve custody, parenting time, or other issues involving your children on your own.  
  • There are many issues involved in your case and numerous pleadings have been filed.  
  • Your case has gone on to the point you feel it may ever end.  
  • The courtroom has become a battleground for you and your child’s other parent.  
  • You have on your own, or by court order attended therapy sessions, mediation, and/or parenting classes, but still cannot resolve your custody issues.  


If you are involved in a high-conflict custody case, you need an experienced domestic attorney who can implement many of the legal tools available under the Divorce or Paternity Acts to mitigate and/or manage  the high-conflict case, which may be the appointment of a parenting coordinator to a contempt action whereby the unreasonable party is ordered to a suspended jail sentence if the matter in the contempt petition is not addressed and continues.  In addition, he or she tries to address the issue more-or-less real time and has the practice resources to do so; this method of addressing issues does so in a timely manner; and they thus do not pile up and feed one another, escalating every matter.   

If you have a high-conflict custody case, you need to select domestic counsel to craft and implement unique method to managing the high-conflict domestic case. The experienced attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. can help you resolve the conflict as quickly as possible and get back to your life. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C.  The blog is for general educational purposes. It is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement. 



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