Signs of Toxic Co-Parenting

High Conflict Co-Parenting

Taylor Ellison
3 min readFeb 2


Writing has been part of my therapy and part of my recovery from a toxic co-parenting relationship. As part of that healing, I thought it might be helpful to share what I have learned.

Photo by mk. s on Unsplash

According, high conflict co-parenting is used to describe divorces where one or both spouses engage in negative behaviors to intentionally derail the process or inflict unnecessary emotional pain on one another.

It’s found that 20% of all separating couples will experience high-conflict co-parenting with their former partner.

Below are some characteristics of high conflict co-parenting:

  • One parent demonizing the other parent, in or out of the child’s presence.
  • Constant arguing about the divorce and matters related to the divorce.
  • Aggression, physical and emotional.
  • Using the children to get your way. Using children as pawns.
  • Conscious lying and fabrication of events.
  • Inappropriately involves others in disputes.

People that are typically in a high conflict co-parenting relationship will have a cluster B personality disorder:

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder, and
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

How do you know if you’re in a high conflict co-parenting relationship? Watch for these signs:

  • Rigid thinking and demands.
  • Blaming others and playing the victim.
  • Unmanaged emotions.
  • Extreme behavior or threats.
  • Lying.

Bill Eddy developed the The High Conflict Institute for families coping with high conflict co-parenting. These are the 25 characteristics of high conflict personalities:

  1. Long History of Relationship Conflicts
  2. History of Abuse in Childhood or Disrupted Early Childhood Relationships
  3. Views Relationships as Inherently Adversarial



Taylor Ellison

Happily divorced, single mom, reviewing books and managing a Bookstagram account as if people actually care about what I have to say. Posting weekly.