Category: Personality Disorders

Has anyone ever been able to prove narcissistic abuse in divorce court?

Yes, it happens quite frequently.*  

What people don’t understand is that finding a spouse is a jerk usually doesn’t amount to much in the divorce action.  

Most people believe—falsely—that if they can show the court that their spouses are narcissists (or some other type of insufferable personality) that this will result in the court bringing the wrath of God down on the narcissist and showering the other spouse with sympathy and riches for his/her trouble. Not so. 

Literally hundreds of thousands of people going through a divorce whose spouses suffer from (or who are suspected of suffering from) personality disorders believe that “if I can prove to the court that my spouse suffers from [antisocial personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder], I’ll win everything my heart desires in the divorce case.” No, you won’t.  

It’s not narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder that matters, but actions (or a failure to act) that matters, first and foremost. If your spouse is physically or emotionally abusing you or the kids (and please accept that your when your spouse occasionally disagrees with or criticizes you or your children that does not make him or her emotionally abusive), it doesn’t matter why. If your spouse has a drug or alcohol problem, or a gambling habit, or your able-bodied spouse is lazy and won’t earn a living, it doesn’t matter why. There’s no excuse. An abusive or grossly irresponsible spouse is bad regardless of whether he or she has a personality disorder. See?  


*Now that does not mean that a judge necessarily makes the specific finding of “Husband/Wife is a narcissist who abused his/her spouse,” but many divorce courts find, in making or denying awards of marital property and assets, alimony, child custody, and parent-time, and protective or restraining orders that a spouse and/or parent engaged in lying, cheating, manipulative, exploitative, abusive, neglectful, irresponsible, and/or parental alienating behavior. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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What are the 3 main issues that lead to divorce these days?

Every time you hear about divorce, what are the 3 main issues that lead to divorce these days? 

I have been a divorce and family law attorney for 26 years. In that time I have spoken to thousands of people about divorce and their reasons for seeking a divorce. While there are many reasons one may need or feel the need to divorce, the “top 3” reasons are, in my experience: 

  1. Broken trust (whether that is caused by infidelity or hiding a substance abuse problem or failing to “pull one’s own weight” in the marriage relationship, etc.) 
  2. Placing self-interest ahead of fostering the marriage partnership (which usually takes the form of expecting your spouse to be perfect and to be solely or primarily responsible for your happiness) 
  3. Immaturity and/or some kind of mental health disorder 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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How is a narcissist exposed in a court of law?

You’re not asking the best question. 

First, understand that many divorcing people see their spouses as “narcissistic” because at the time of divorce they tend to see the worst in everything about their spouses. Little personality quirks and foibles of a spouse are magnified in the eyes of the other spouse to help the other spouse feel better about themselves and their arguments for divorce. So before you set out to “expose” your spouse as a narcissist, be sure that it’s true.  

Second, there are varying degrees of narcissism. Someone who is self-absorbed, egomaniacal, and manipulative may be irritating to live and work with, but that alone isn’t a sufficient basis to entitle a spouse to more or less alimony or child custody or parent-time, for example. The condition alone is not a sufficient reason alone to deny a parent custody or parent-time. If a parent has a flaw or handicap, it’s not the handicap that’s inherently the problem, the problem is whether that flaw or handicap has done you or the marital estate real damage, whether the flaw or handicap renders a parent unfit to exercise care and custody of the children. It’s not the narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) itself that is a problem, it’s whether the NPD sufferer is behaving in a way that causes legally recognized and punishable harm to the spouse and/or children.  


The court doesn’t know (or usually care) what it means when you subjectively say, “My spouse is a narcissist.” But the court can understand and respond to objective, independently verifiable facts, i.e., here is the proof that my spouse: 

  • gambles away the rent money;  
  • beats the kids and me; 
  • gets drunk and passes out while the kids play in the traffic;
  • lies to get away with: 
    • breaking the law; 
    • physically injuring others; 
    • avoiding accountability and responsibility; and 
    • taking advantage of others  

If your spouse is so narcissistic that he or she is doing you or the kids real harm or putting you or the kids at risk of serious harm, then you must show the court, based upon independently verifiable proof (not just your word over that of your spouse) that the other spouse/parent has done wrong, is in the process of doing wrong, attempting to do wrong, or poses a serious danger of doing harm. Only when you can show the wrong first may the cause the why or how matter. With all that stated, I concede that some judges have an uncanny ability to see the worst in people, and to be duped. You would think they’d be especially attuned and on the lookout for the liars and con-men (and women), but that often not the case. Don’t let the court be charmed and taken in by lies, brown nosing, and alarmism either. Don’t let the court play favorites or come to hasty and biased conclusions. Call out the court if and when it puts subjective feelings over objective facts (or the lack thereof). 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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How can I reveal my soon-to-be ex as having NPD in our custody case?

How can I reveal my soon-to-be ex as having NPD in our child custody case?

You’re asking the wrong question. You shouldn’t be asking how you can prove your spouse has NPD (or some other mental or emotional disorder), but whether your spouse in some way unfit—due to mental illness or emotional disorder—to exercise custody of or parent-time with the children. 

There are so many people who believe that if he/she can prove that his/her spouse or the other parent merely suffers from a mental illness or emotional disorder he/she will somehow win the custody battle. 

It seems as though people believe that mental illness or emotional disorders automatically disqualify one from exercising custody or parent time (visitation) with one’s children. It’s not true. I don’t know where this misconception came from. 

First, merely having a mental or emotional disorder does not make one an unfit parent. Merely having a certain mental or emotional disorder or disorders does not automatically make one a danger to himself or to others. 

Second, even having a mental illness or emotional disorder that could render one a danger to himself or others does not mean that one cannot function as a fit parent. Many parents with serious mental and emotional disorders take medication to treat and manage those disorders successfully. Merely having a mental or emotional disorder (or other kinds of disabilities) does not automatically disqualify a parent as fit to exercise child custody and parent-time. 

Third, proving that one has a serious and disqualifying mental or emotional disorder or disorders is extraordinarily difficult. Diagnosis of many mental and emotional disorders is highly subjective. And if there isn’t associated seriously bad behavior to provide tangible, verifiable proof of actual serious harm resulting from suffering from mental illness or emotional disorders, then accusing a spouse or other parent of suffering from mental illness or emotional disorders essentially comes down to a matter of “your word against mine.” 

Fourth, even if a parent is self-absorbed, hot-tempered, hypocritical, etc., that doesn’t make the parent inherently unfit to exercise custody or parent-time. There are innumerable people suffering from some form of mental illness or personality disorder who still manage to function adequately in society. We may not know exactly why they’re so difficult to deal with, why they’re such jerks, why they won’t change, but they still meet minimum standards of behavior for normal society. 

Finally, accusing the other spouse or parent of suffering from mental illness or emotional disorders as a means of poisoning the opinion of the court against your spouse or other parent (and thereby obtain an advantage) can backfire. Making unsupported allegations comes across to courts as cheap shots (which they are). Unsupported allegations damage your credibility. It can make you look like the crazy and unstable one. It’s trendy to throw around these terms and accuse your spouse of suffering from NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) or BPD (borderline personality disorder), or other defects and disabilities. Mere allegations are a dime a dozen. Mere allegations and uncorroborated stories of mental illness or ability disorders don’t usually get a court’s attention (false claims of child abuse and domestic violence, however, are a different story altogether). 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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How do I console a father who has lost custody of his child?

How do I console a father who has lost custody of his child?

“He’s [the father who lost custody] permanently damaged.” That’s what someone else wrote in response to your question. It’s true. Time lost between a parent and child is never found. These kinds of wounds can heal, but rarely will they heal fully or not leave scars.

There is still not just some consolation, but much consolation to be found, however.

First, all of us suffer injustices in life yet the overwhelming majority of us still have far more reasons to be happy than miserable. So does Dad. That’s not a Pollyanna view of life, it’s a fact. And a fact one must not let grief blind Dad to.

If one focuses on the negative to the exclusion of the good and positive, then all one will see is the negative and miss out on most or even all of the good. Parents who are alienated from their children have an obligation to themselves not to dwell on it. Feel the pain, of course. Don’t deny it. It’s inevitable and it’s necessary to let the pain run its proper course before you can start to recover.

But don’t let the pain drown you. Don’t let the pain and the bitterness deprive you of all the other good things life has in store for you. That’s what your alienating ex-spouse is hoping for. At the very least don’t give your alienating ex-spouse the satisfaction. Your kids need to see you can rise above this so that they believe they can rise above adversity too.

Second and more importantly (and this is the truth, even if it’s new to you or you think it’s silly; regardless, you have nothing to lose by exploring whether there really is consolation to be found here), by suffering and dying for you (and for your children), Jesus Christ has the power not only to right all wrongs in the next life, but has the power to comfort you and help you heal in this life now as well.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Can a mother lose custody even if the child is still very young?

Can a mother lose custody even if the child is still very young?

Are there any situations where a mother can lose custody even if their child is still very young (e.g., under 5 years old)?

Oh, heck yeah. Many possible situations. Rather than identify all the various ways that a mother of a young child could lose or not be awarded sole or primary custody of that child or children, let’s just examine the basis for determining whether a parent keeps, wins, or is deprived of custody of a child. All states have slightly different criteria but these criteria all come down to this: parental fitness.

Parental fitness is evaluated in the contexts of a parent’s desire and ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs and welfare.

In Utah, where I practice family law and go to hearings and trials over child custody disputes, the factors the court must consider and factors that the court can consider when determining whether to award sole or joint custody are contained in these sections of the Utah Code and the Utah Rules of Judicial Administration:

Utah Code § 30–3–10:

(a) evidence of domestic violence, neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse, involving the child, the parent, or a household member of the parent;

(b) the parent’s demonstrated understanding of, responsiveness to, and ability to meet the developmental needs of the child, including the child’s:

(i) physical needs;

(ii) emotional needs;

(iii) educational needs;

(iv) medical needs; and

(v) any special needs;

(c) the parent’s capacity and willingness to function as a parent, including:

(i) parenting skills;

(ii) co-parenting skills, including:

(A) ability to appropriately communicate with the other parent;

(B) ability to encourage the sharing of love and affection; and

(C) willingness to allow frequent and continuous contact between the child and the other parent, except that, if the court determines that the parent is acting to protect the child from domestic violence, neglect, or abuse, the parent’s protective actions may be taken into consideration; and

(iii) ability to provide personal care rather than surrogate care;

(d) in accordance with Subsection (10), the past conduct and demonstrated moral character of the parent;

(e) the emotional stability of the parent;

(f) the parent’s inability to function as a parent because of drug abuse, excessive drinking, or other causes;

(g) whether the parent has intentionally exposed the child to pornography or material harmful to minors, as “material” and “harmful to minors” are defined in Section 76-10-1201;

(h) the parent’s reasons for having relinquished custody or parent-time in the past;

(i) duration and depth of desire for custody or parent-time;

(j) the parent’s religious compatibility with the child;

(k) the parent’s financial responsibility;

(l) the child’s interaction and relationship with step-parents, extended family members of other individuals who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;

(m) who has been the primary caretaker of the child;

(n) previous parenting arrangements in which the child has been happy and well-adjusted in the home, school, and community;

(o) the relative benefit of keeping siblings together;

(p) the stated wishes and concerns of the child, taking into consideration the child’s cognitive ability and emotional maturity;

(q) the relative strength of the child’s bond with the parent, meaning the depth, quality, and nature of the relationship between the parent and the child; and

(r) any other factor the court finds relevant.

Utah Code §30–3–10.2:

(a) whether the physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from joint legal custody or joint physical custody or both;

(b) the ability of the parents to give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child’s best interest;

(c) co-parenting skills, including:

(i) ability to appropriately communicate with the other parent;

(ii) ability to encourage the sharing of love and affection; and

(iii) willingness to allow frequent and continuous contact between the child and the other parent, except that, if the court determines that the parent is acting to protect the child from domestic violence, neglect, or abuse, the parent’s protective actions may be taken into consideration; and

(d) whether both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce;

(e) the geographical proximity of the homes of the parents;

(f) the preference of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to joint legal custody or joint physical custody or both;

(g) the maturity of the parents and their willingness and ability to protect the child from conflict that may arise between the parents;

(h) the past and present ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly; and

(i) any other factor the court finds relevant.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Which Is Better: spending thousands on GAL/custody evaluator or $0 on a judge interview?

Which Is Better: spending thousands on GAL/custody evaluator or $0 on a judge interview?

How could it be better to spend thousands on a GAL or custody evaluator when the judge can interview children free of charge?

This post is the sixth in series of 15 posts on the subject of custody evaluations and the appointment of guardians ad litem (“GALs” for short) in Utah child custody cases when the judge could simply interview the children instead. You do not have to read all 16 posts to benefit from this series. Read as many or as few as you wish.

The purpose of this series is to make the case for the proposition that an interview by the judge is a faster, more accurate, more particular, more reliable, and less expensive form of evidence than what a GAL and/or custody evaluator provides.

How could it be better to spend thousands on a GAL or custody evaluator when the judge can interview children free of charge? In 24 years of law practice, I have never had a judge agree to interview children in lieu of having a private guardian ad litem appointed and/or having a custody evaluator appointed. I submit that it’s not because my arguments lack merit. Indeed, I have yet to encounter a valid, let alone a compelling, argument for why it is better to spend thousands, even tens of thousands, on guardians ad litem and or custody evaluators when the judge can interview children directly, free of charge (as opposed to obtaining so-called “evidence” via court-sponsored hearsay in the form of second, and often third hand information of interviews with the children that allegedly took place but were never made part of the court’s record). There are two main excuses one will hear for why judges should not interview children: 1) judges interviewing children is inherently traumatic for children and/or “puts them in the middle of their parents’ disputes” and thus unjustifiably traumatizes them too; and 2) judges are not qualified to interview children where guardians ad litem and or custody evaluators, and only guardians had lied them and/or custody evaluators, are qualified to do so. Neither justification holds water, as I have explained and will continue to explain in these videos. If anyone would like to hold a debate on this subject, it would be of benefit to everyone involved in child custody disputes, from the child to the parents to the parent’s respective lawyers to the judge.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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What advice would you give me before divorce, if I’m not in the wrong?

What advice would you give someone before a divorce, if it’s known it may happen and you’re not in the wrong?

This is a very important question that too few people ask.

Does this sound familiar?:

  • Your spouse is making false allegations against you. No evidence to support them, yet the police and the courts and child protective services are swallowing it all.
  • You keep asking when justice will be done, when you will be vindicated.
  • You keep wondering when things would get back to “normal”.
  • In the back of your mind you are certain that one day things will indeed get back to normal
  • Odds are they won’t. Especially while your kids are minors.
  • But surely things can’t stay this crazy and out of whack forever, right?
  • Wrong.
  • Things will likely get better but will likely never “go back to normal.”
  • We don’t blame you for thinking we’re exaggerating. The idea that innocence counts for next to nothing is unthinkable. Too terrible to believe. As is the idea that people can slander you with impunity while the police and the courts stand by and either let it happen or even it help it happen. Believe it. It’s true.
  • No really, it’s true.
  • The words of this real divorced spouse and parent sum things up concisely and accurately: I kept wondering when things would get back to normal. I soon realized through brutal experience that it never will, as long as I have kids with my ex that are minors. Or if I am ever around my alone (meaning no other witness could confirm her false claims are exactly that, false). I can’t ever go back to life as it was before divorce. My rose-colored glasses are broken forever, The days of not worrying about someone making things up to punish me in divorce or criminal court or DCFS are no more. The “child-like faith” I once had in our legal system is lost for all time, never to return.
  • You can deny it all you want, but it will do you and your kids no good and only lead to more harm and being victimized more, if you bury your head in the sand or in the clouds. That will only add repeated and more severe injury to what started out as insult.
  • We know what you are hoping for, and you’re not there yet. You likely won’t be for much longer time than you think is realistic or fair.
  • Will the day soon come when you can stop worrying about protecting yourself from false allegations or complaints from your ex? No.
  • In fact, that day may never come.
  • We know people for whom it’s been years, in some cases more than a decade, and still, to this day the ex cannot be trusted to be decent.
  • You have to cautious and careful in the event that the snake that bit you once (or dozens of times) before might try to bite you again.
  • We know it’s exhausting and actually driving you near insane (we really do).
  • But you must stay vigilant.
  • You must stay classy. And stay frosty. You must. It’s either stay frosty, stay classy, or be crushed. Crushed emotionally, financially, etc.
  • An ounce of prevention truly is worth several hundred or several thousand pounds of cure.
  • We understand you’re not happy about this.
  • Still, knowing is half the battle. Forewarned is forearmed.
  • Staying blissfully ignorant won’t do you any good and can do you permanent damage.
  • Divorce and false claims of child and spousal and substance abuse, etc. are more prevalent than you think because nobody wants to believe it will happen to them. And those who are victimized are often too embarrassed and depressed to talk openly and honestly about it. Can you blame them?
  • That’s it. No easy solutions. No cheap assurances. But ignore this information, warnings, and protective measures at your peril.

Hang in there. Heed this crucial advice: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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How do courts view mothers who abandon their family during a divorce?

How does the court view mothers that abandon their family during a divorce?

Generally, with disbelief, at first. Why? A few reasons.

One, to its credit, our culture still holds the concept and institution of motherhood in high esteem, so most people (and judges are people) believe that mothers are good, devoted caregivers. Most mothers are just that. So it is not easy to accept what our senses are conveying when a mother behaves contrary to our cultural expectations. We tend to see mothers as we want to see them, not as they always are.

Two, few bad mothers are honest with the court about being bad mothers. So the false face that most bad mothers present to the court is (primarily, but not solely, because of point number one) not only hard to detect as false, but easily accepted or acceptable as genuine.

  • One way bad mothers divert attention from their faults and misconduct is by blaming the fathers for those faults and misdeeds. Just as we tend to put mothers on a pedestal in our culture, we unfairly tend to see and treat many fathers as second-class parents. The feeling is like, “Yeah, they are important to a child’s upbringing, I guess, but they aren’t as vital and important to a child’s development as a mother, so we give dads less of the benefit of the doubt.” This is so wrong for so many reasons, but nevertheless it happens so often.
    • If kids are abused or neglected, bad mothers blame the guiltless fathers with a high rate of success in court. For example: violence perpetrated by men can be more severe than violence perpetrated by women, so if a child is a victim of domestic violence, it’s easy to assume Dad is the perpetrator (interestingly, FBI statistics show women commit just as much, if not more, domestic violence than men). If Dad has a full-time job, it’s easy to presume that Mom is the full-time caregiver, not a lazy slob who drinks herself numb every day and lets the kids run amok until Dad gets home to restore order and attend to the children’s need.

Three, even when a bad mother’s defects are unavoidably and undeniably exposed, many courts possess surprisingly great supplies of sympathy and forgiveness that they would rarely or not so readily extend to a father. It so often gets framed like this, for example: a mother who abuses drugs or alcohol is a victim whose substance abuse is a cry for help. A father who abuses drugs is a narcissist who lacks self-discipline. A mother with crippling mental health issues is deserving of our concern and rehabilitation. A father with crippling mental health issues is a danger against which the children need protection. I’ve personally witnessed many cases where mom was abusive and/or neglectful and dad was not, yet mom was awarded primary physical custody of the children because the court felt so strongly that the kids “need their mother,” that somehow mom had earned the right to be the custodial parent by virtue of being a woman, and that mom could and would overcome her shortcomings (not because there was credible evidence that she can and wanted to overcome those shortcomings, but because the court had to make such a finding to justify the award of custody to the worse of the two parents).

To be clear, I am not telling you that courts cannot identify bad mothers or that they cannot or will not shield children from bad mothers. Many people—moms and dads alike—when discovered for the mediocre, even dangerous, parents they are, are not awarded child custody and/or are subject to supervision around their children. It can and does happen. But that is not what discussed here. In response to the question of which parent among mothers and fathers gets undeserved breaks more in divorce cases, it is mothers hands down. Now you know some of the main reasons why.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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How does a narcissist continue to fool a family court judge?

How does a narcissist continue to fool a family court judge?

How does a narcissist continue to fool a family court judge?

Because there’s almost never a way to prove when anyone engaging in misconduct that is not objectively verifiable.

Because there’s almost never a way to prove that the narcissist (or anyone engaging in misconduct that is not objectively verifiable.

Please see my answer to a similar question that I posted on Quora: Eric Johnson’s answer to How should you educate a lawyer to deal with an NPD/BPD in a court room setting?

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277


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Can I Get the Court to Force My NPD Spouse to Be Tested?

Should I attempt to / is it possible to have my court order my NPD to undergo psychological testing before he can get access to our child?

First, let’s break down the bases for your resistance to you ex-spouse having access to your child:
  • My ex suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
  • I want my ex to undergo psychological testing to determine whether it’s in our child’s best interest for my ex to have access to our child.

Next, we’ll break your question down into its separate, distinct parts before answering it:

Is it possible to have my court order changed to dictate that my NPD ex must undergo psychological testing before gaining access to our child?

Should I attempt to have my court order changed to dictate that my NPD ex must undergo psychological testing before gaining access to our child?

Now to the answers:
  1. The existence of Narcissistic Personality Disorder in someone is hard to prove. Popular culture likes to create and perpetuate the impression that psychologists are infallible truth detectors, but they are not. Perversely, those who have NPD often know that they have it, and they know how to hide it.
  2. Besides, even if you were able to prove to the satisfaction of the court that your ex suffers from NPD, the court may simply determine that your ex is a self-centered jerk, but not undeserving of contact with his/her own child.
  3. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not inherently dangerous to anyone. Extreme narcissism may lead to harmful behavior, but a parent suffering from NPD alone is not inherently dangerous to children. Even if you can prove your spouse suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, that does not mean that your ex cannot or should not have contact with his/her own child. The “dangers” of NPD probably do not justify denying apparent contact with the child, or a child contact with the parent, even if that parent is flawed.
So is it possible to have the court modify the visitation or parent time order to prohibit your ex having contact with your child until your ex is proven to be psychologically safe for the child?


Is it likely that the court would deem NPD rendering your ex psychologically unsafe for your child? Probably not (for the reasons numbered above).

So should you attempt to have your court order changed to dictate that your NPD ex must undergo psychological testing before gaining access to your child? In my opinion, no. That would probably be a waste of your time, effort, and money because I do not believe that most judges would find a compelling reason to order testing in the first place, or to deny parent-child interaction on the basis of NPD alone.

A better use of your resources might be getting a counselor or therapist for your child to help him/her understand his/her father’s personality and the behavior that results from it.

DO NOT misunderstand me here:

It could very well be that your NPD ex is not doing, and will not do, your child any actual harm because of NPD. Lots of people are self-centered jerks, but we coexist with them easily enough. Simply because your ex is NPD does not make him/her a bad person or a bad parent and thus does not automatically justify enrolling a child in counseling or therapy. If a parent wants to accuse another parent of suffering from some kind of personality, psychological, or emotional disorder for the purpose of alienating that parent from the children, that is a form of child abuse.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

Dealing with Your Spouse During the Divorce Process

QUESTION: What are some pointers that you may have in getting along with your ex-spouse to be during the process of a divorce? What advice do you have to keep it from escalating badly during this difficult time?

  1. Suggest counseling. Not marriage counseling to keep you together. That ship has sailed. But there are counselors who will help a couple navigate the emotional shoals of divorce for the spouses and for the kids. Counseling isn’t for everyone, but if your spouse is open to the idea, give it a try. Many times its covered by your health insurance.
  2. When you wonder if you can take it another moment, keep in mind always: this too shall pass.
  3. If you believe your spouse is just as eager to get this divorce over with as you are, suggest that you go to mediation sooner than later.
  4. You can’t control your spouse (or at least cannot control him/her very well or consistently), but you can control yourself. So control yourself. It is difficult (at first), but not impossible (indeed, it’s necessary in emotionally mature people)
    • You know great people with good, even great self-control. Their self-control contributes to making them great. A divorce is, in fact, a useful (yes, I said “useful”) opportunity (yes, an opportunity) to learn to control your reactions and reactive nature.
    • You may not deserve to be going through this. You may be an innocent victim. We are all innocent victims in one way or another. How we react to life’s injustices are what determine whether we will be happy in spite of the setbacks or miserable.
  5. When your spouse is disparaging and critical of you about your positions you are taking in the divorce action, it may be helpful to respond these kinds of ways:
    • “If you believe I am so confused and mistaken, let’s get this case to trial as soon as possible, so that we can see whether that’s true.”
    • “If you believe I am so confused and mistaken, let’s get this case to trial as soon as possible, so that you can win quickly and easily.”
    • “This goes beyond just being annoying. This is harassment. Knock it off, or you leave me no choice but to call the police and/or go to the court for relief.”
  6. Let your attorney shield you from some of the nastier disputes and controversies.
    • Now realize that your attorney is not your babysitter or bodyguard, but attorneys are professional dispute handlers. And they’re not as close to your spouse emotionally as you are. That professional detachment helps them deal with some disputes better than you may.
    • Your attorney may know how to nip some disputes in the bud. Either by citing the controlling laws/rules your spouse and/or his/her attorney to show them the error of their ways or by flexing a little legal muscle and getting a court order to shut down your spouse’s misconduct.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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In your experience, how often do divorces get resolved “amicably” after being filed in court?

Some couples actually realize that while their marriage is a failure, that does not mean that they are bad people. They can care enough about each other to divorce amicably. I’ve seen it happen about 10% of the time. It probably happens more often than that, but when lawyers are involved (and those are the only divorces I can base my experience on, given that I am a divorce lawyer), usually one or both spouses isn’t interested in an amicable settlement or believe an fair, amicable settlement can be reached.

It’s hard to get a lot of people (not all, not maybe even most, but a lot) to realize the costs of preparing for and taking a case to trial over settlement. One of the reasons is that too many people file lawsuits and make claims in lawsuits for their nuisance value. In other words, these people know or suspect that their claims may not ultimately win at trial, but they make the claims because the person sued may determine it’s safer/more economical in the long run to pay the blackmail/nuisance fee than to take the case to trial because even if the defendant “wins” the trial, the public humiliation, the distress, and/or financial costs of going all the way to trial are worse.

But in divorce cases it’s so irritating (even terrifying) to be accused of being a child abuser or molester, of being a drunk or a pill-popper, mentally ill, a miser, or a wife-beater, etc. and then be told to “settle” the case without being vindicated.

It’s soul-crushing to have one’s good name (that you built up over a lifetime) dragged through the mud with impunity and then to realize that the the court system isn’t in the business of protecting the reputations of good people (it doesn’t even try), and so many clients simply will not believe it (and can you blame them for feeling that way?). Instead, they desperately fall in love with the images on TV of Tom Robinson (from To Kill a Mockingbird) or Bertram Cates (Inherit the Wind) being gloriously and dramatically rescued by the court against all odds.

People who risk losing their kids and/or net worth in divorce (or even of going to jail because of the crimes they are falsely accused of) in the course of the proceedings have to believe there is somewhere, someone to whom they can turn for relief. There is such a being (you can learn more about Him in the scriptures), but it ain’t consistently the court.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

How do I show the court about my sons non-diagnosed NPD mother to get a sole custody?

How do I show the court about my sons non-diagnosed NPD mother to get a sole custody?

Oh, ho, ho, ho! So you want to prove your wife has Narcissistic Personality Disorder do you? And you believe that proving it (if you can) will result in you being awarded custody of your son?

I wouldn’t do it, unless you can prove your case virtually beyond a reasonable doubt—and that’s a tall order.

In my experience (21 years as a divorce attorney), trying to win custody by trying to prove your spouse suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an exercise in futility at best, and an undue risk of backfiring on you at worst.

Such claims are greeted with heavy skepticism from courts. “Personality disorder” sounds like pseudoscience (much of what gets presented to the courts on the subject is). Claiming someone has a personality disorder can also cause you to appear to be something of a wimp: “So your spouse is hard to get along with. Quelle surprise. Is it any wonder you’re getting divorced? ” And claims that your spouse has a disorder often carry that whiff of the self-serving (“Oh, so it’s your spouse and her ‘personality disorder’ that are to blame, huh? Nothing you did, eh? ‘Looks like you’re trying to avoid responsibility for your own mess.”).

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that personality disorders can be, in some cases, are so severe and so ruinous of a marriage and family. But it’s so hard to prove. There are many reasons. One, courts these days generally don’t take diagnoses of personality disorders seriously. Two, some people with personality disorders can be quite adept at fooling the diagnostic tests.

Some people think, “If I get an expert witness, then the court will really take notice!” I disagree. Courts appear to be growing less and less trusting of expert witnesses. That’s probably a good development overall because for years much of what was passing for “scientific” and “expert” opinion—particularly in the family law arena—was junk science—there was nothing scientific about it. It ruined lives. So again, you run into skepticism and even resistance to expert witnesses on the subject of personality disorders.

Rather than focusing your case on proving the existence of the other parent’s personality disorder, focus on providing the court with evidence of your spouse’s specific behaviors that are causing so much harm to you, your children, and the family collectively. If you have clear-cut evidence—and enough of such evidence—then the court will be more comfortable with this kind of evidence and more accepting of it.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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