Since March 2020 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend: conflict has intensified in the divorce process.

I do think this has a lot to do with the circumstances; people isolated in their homes with their significant other and children, with limited options for alternative outlets, hobbies, or activities. As a result, attention and focus have narrowed to the “micro” details rather than the “macro” and, often, couples would “fight just to fight” with no real objective other than to occupy their time and mind space. For example, some divorcing couples are going to the ends of the earth, spending thousands of dollars litigating and battling over “that lamp on the end table next to the master bed.” In some circumstances, “that lamp” has become more important than an individual’s time thinking about a post-divorce financial plan, creating a new will or trust and overall healing from the trauma of the pending change in life.

Ultimately, the children are affected by the wake of this transitioning type of conflict.

The number one question in the minds of our clients with children is: “will my kids be okay?”

In our experience, children are quick to adapt to a new normal, routine, spaces, and parental roles. However, the success of this transition is significantly impacted by the behaviors of their parents and the joint ability to rise above the conflict for the benefit of their kids.

Consequently, when parents cannot work together, there is turbulence. Kids feel this conflict and tension in the house and they will observe your demeanor and notice each action and reaction.

We’ve witnessed that continued and repeated exposure to conflict is significantly detrimental to children and our Courts (and lawyers) have become extremely sensitive to it. In fact, the Courts have actively taken steps to remove children from such conflict.

Today, in almost every divorce case, we enter Court Orders which address pretty basic and obvious recommendations: 1) do not speak poorly about the other parent in front of the children, 2) don’t talk to the children about the divorce, 3) act civilly and with respect to one another. Sometimes, Courts require parents to communicate through a controlled medium, not attend children’s events/appointments together, and/or to set up exchanges in public places.

Recently, with a dramatic ruling, a Court significantly reduced parenting time for creating conflict. The Court reasoned that “the parties had too much animosity to sufficiently cooperate.” (In re Marriage of Virgin, 2021 IL App (3d) 190650) While “both [parents] parented well…they did not cooperate well.” Id. This decision emphasized the role of conflict in divorce and the lengths the Court will go to protect the children.

I always sign off with a reminder to those considering divorce, in the midst of divorce, or dealing with post-divorce issues: no one is expected to go through this alone and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Surround yourselves with a support team – family, friends, and professionals, who can assist you in navigating through these harsh waters legally, mentally, and physically. After all, to be the best parent, a parent has to be at their best.

Be present for your children, enjoy each day, and try to shift the focus back to the “macro.”


Jordan D. Rosenberg, Partner
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