What advice do you have for a parent who is forced to share custody of a child with a covert narcissist?
I don’t claim to have “the” answer, but from a lawyer’s perspective the problem lies in getting enough high-quantity and high-quality evidence (both are needed) to prove to the court that the other parent’s behavior is having a harmful effect on the child. This is difficult with narcissists because in isolation one or two instances of their bad behaviors may appear aberrant or even innocent. It’s only when you have a long history of “death by a thousand cuts” that you can show the court the harm being done. So that means playing the long game: keeping records of everything, every e-mail, text message, and phone call (its legal to record phone calls in Utah without notifying the party with whom you are speaking that you are recording) and video recording (as the law allows) every interaction you want the court to know about. This means keeping your own nose clean during this period as well. Then it means compiling the evidence in a form that is so easy to review that the court cannot refuse. Warning: most courts are not receptive to the idea that someone can be a such a chronic jerk as to harm a child on a permanent or irreparable basis, so you’ll likely also benefit from the support of competent, well-spoken, respected, non-agenda-driven experts in the field of mental health to back your arguments too. This process is time-consuming, strenuous, and expensive. If you can’t afford the time, effort, and financial cost of going about this in the courts as described above, you will want to consider other options outside of court.