Your Family Law Matter is Not High Conflict – You Are

Many parents assume that their family law matter is “high conflict.” Often parents are eager to explain all of the little things that the other parent did wrong during their attempts to co-parent:

  • He kept the kids up to late.
  • He puts the kids in socks that are to small.
  • He tells the kids “adult stuff.”
  • He uses the TV as a babysitter.
  • He introduced his girlfriend to soon.
  • He lies to avoid paying child support.

  • She feeds the kids junk food.
  • She dressed them in “rags.”
  • She plays favourites with the kids.
  • She spends all of her time on her phone.
  • She has someone else doing the parenting.


Most of these complaints are not proof that your matter is high conflict. It is evidence that you’re nitpicking the other parents choices to try and justify why you do not like your former spouse. Chances are that you did not care that your kids watched tv or ate chips when you were still in a relationship with your ex!

Many of these parents can’t wait to show off their long and extremely detailed journals documenting every little thing the other parent did wrong. I hate to break it to you – but these journals are very harmful to improving your co-parenting relationship. If you insist on documenting every time the other parent rolls their eyes at you or makes a parenting decision you do not agree with: you are the problem. Let me rephrase that: your family law matter is not high conflict; you are high conflict.

Unless you have valid safety concerns, you need to chill out. If you are legitimately concerned about the safety and well-being of your children, you need to take steps to keep them safe. For starters, you should speak with a social worker immediately. If the social worker validates your concerns then you should hire a lawyer and file a court application. If the social worker closes the file without intervention, you may want to seek legal advice on the strengths/weaknesses of your case before filing a court application.

There may also be other steps you could take to help with your concerns. For example, if you think your kids are not being fed appropriately then pack nutritious snacks. Don’t use their allegedly poor diet as an excuse to withhold their time with their other parent. If you’re concerned your kids are wearing “rags,” send them with better clothing when they go visit their other parent. Take steps to help your children instead of using the situation as a way to help yourself get pity from others.

If you do not feel it is necessary to seek outside help within the next few months; stop documenting every little thing that upsets you!

If you are constantly focusing on the “bad” you are probably overlooking the “good” in the other parent and the situation. If you are constantly documenting, reviewing and showing off your notes to prove your family law matter is high conflict; you are not forgiving and forgetting. You are not moving forward or co-parenting because you are caught up in the past. You are toxic to your situation. And let’s be honest, you are probably not keeping a detailed journal of all of the good things because you have been hyper-focused on the bad one. Put down your journal and put your kids first. If you are dealing with a similar situation, reach out for assistance.

Edmonton Family Network has connections to legal service providers and community support services. We help people discover great options for their situation. Email us to learn more.

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