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Book review: Win Your Child Custody War

Lovefraud receives many e-mails and phone calls from parents who are in child custody disputes with sociopathic ex-partners. If this is you, you are desperate for help and advice.

Personally, I think these are the most tragic cases involving sociopaths. Sociopaths are incapable of loving anyone, including their children. Children, therefore, are pawns in their game, and the game is to torture you. In the worst cases, the game is also to turn your child into a Mini Me, a budding sociopath.

To make matters worse, sociopaths are capable of putting on such convincing appearances—smoothly blending partial truth with lies and accusations—that judges frequently believe them. Sociopaths also manage to find attorneys like themselves, who know every way to manipulate the legal system to create havoc for you. In short, family court battles with a sociopath are a nightmare.

A book to help you

What do you do? Child custody cases are incredibly complex. You probably have never done this before, so you don’t know what to expect. Perhaps you’ve never had any contact with the courts before. Where can you turn for help?

I recommend a book called Win Your Child Custody War: Child Custody Help Source Book—A How-To System for People Serious About the Welfare of Their Child, by Charlotte Hardwick.

The book has 650 oversized pages of information and references related to child custody disputes. It covers just about every topic that may come up in your case, including:

  • Documentation and evidence
  • Contact log
  • Attorneys
  • Detectives
  • Evaluations
  • Psychologists
  • Judges
  • Visitation
  • Religion
  • Home schooling
  • Drugs
  • Neglect, abuse and violence

The book takes a no-nonsense approach to what it will take for you to prevail in your case. It uses a military analogy—you are the general of your war, you have an army to lead, and your ex is the enemy with his own army. For those in the midst of a child custody battle, the terminology probably feels appropriate.

Lies

The book is written for all people involved in child custody disputes, not just those dealing with sociopaths. In some cases, therefore, it seems to underestimate the lengths sociopaths will go to in order to win.

The chaper on Lies and Perjury, for example, starts out by stating, “Telling lies successfully is almost impossible. The truth will come out.” Those of us who have dealt with sociopaths know that this is not always the case.

Later in the chapter, however, there is an enlightening discussion of how liars—read sociopaths—recruit people to their side. It goes like this:

  1. Save Me—the liar gives “facts” that will invoke pity and identify the liar as the victim.
  2. This fosters a desire on the part of the recruit to offer support and protection.
  3. The liar makes obvious a small thing that the recruit can do to help.
  4. The liar claims facts so detailed, painful and horrendous that the recruit will blindly mistrust—even hate—anyone who opposes the liar. That would be you.
  5. All information about the liar’s enemy—you—is subconsciously filtered through the negative “facts” that the liar has told about you.
  6. Once committed to the liar’s army, the recruit’s own pride is at stake. He or she must help the liar win against the evil enemy—you.

Documentation

Unfortunately, once you’re in court, many judges do not understand the implications sociopathy. They do not realize how severely a sociopathic parent can damage a child, especially when that parent presents such a respectable image in the courtroom. So sometimes it doesn’t even pay to try to convince the judge that a parent is a sociopath. To them, it’s just a pejorative label.

The only thing that really counts is documentation. Win Your Child Custody War gives detailed instructions on how you should collect and organize documentation, even providing forms for you to copy or adapt.

Documentation is one of the most critical parts of your case, and you must be meticulous in keeping it.

Worth the investment

I recommend this book for anyone who is involved in a difficult child custody dispute. The book has a few technical problems—like spelling and grammar errors—but overall, the information is extensive and detailed. At the very least, it will tell you what to expect, and that can be important in itself.

The book costs $75, but if you are serious about the welfare of your children, it’s worth the investment. To order it from Amazon.com, click on this link:

Win Your Child Custody War: Child Custody Help Source Book—A How-To System for People Serious About the Welfare of Their Child.



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17 Comments on "Book review: Win Your Child Custody War"

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Here are some lessons from my own custody case:
1) Leaving my husband took every bit of courage I had. All my mental energy prior to leaving was focused on the act of leaving and not beyond. I would suggest for people who are going to leave these types of people to think beyond the point of leaving. Also, I had the mentality that I didn’t want to cause any trouble to my ex. My goal was to get out of the marriage and my ex’s mindset was that he was not going to be divorced. He would not cooperate with any part of the divorce and it finally had to go to trial. I agreed to crazy things just to appease him. My advice is not to do this. Only agree to reasonable requests. Think long-term.
2) Make sure to make every part of the agreement very specific. Sociopaths are very manipulative and will “interpret” the agreement to suit their bad actions. The courts will push you to do the opposite of this, they will suggest that a more flexible agreement will work better in the future, but it won’t for you! A flexible agreement with a sociopath will just cause problems.
3) During my divorce and custody case, I definitely did not consider myself the general”I really considered myself the poor helpless victim that would be protected by the general (the courts). I was disillusioned about the courts. I really believed that it would all work out. I was very naïve about the whole process. I agree with the advice that you have to take 100% control of your own case. You are the general. You are one small case in the thousands that the court deals with. Everyone in the court system is so busy. I think most of the judges, family officers and lawyers mean well, but they are too busy. They only look at the surface, and you know that sociopaths are very good at making the surface look good. My experience is that lawyers and GALs will not dig below the surface for you. You have to bring all the issues up to the surface and make it very easy for them to see what is going on. This is where I think people going through custody cases should try to hire (if their wallets allow it) experts in this field. If you Google, “parental alienation/custody” you can learn more about this.
4) My first lawyer thought she had an easy case”my ex did not hire a lawyer. He represented himself. Little did she know that my ex was a sociopath. He far outsmarted her! He is an expert at appearance, manipulation and lies. The court had to proceed carefully with my case because by law people who represent themselves (I think it is called pro se) have to be given a fair trial. My ex looked like the most forlorn, loving man who just wanted the best for his children. Not having a lawyer actually benefited him. When it came to the trial, he said everything he needed to say was in this written document he had prepared. I had never seen the document, and actually did not see it until the following day in my lawyer’s office. My lawyer was so sure that the judge would not allow the document that she was totally not prepared when the judge accepted it. My lawyer only questioned the health insurance and then stopped her cross examination. I didn’t even realize what damage had been done until the next day when I read it. So many things went wrong here; first, my ex lied in a very bold way. No one would expect someone to do that and so he was given the benefit of the doubt by the judge. Second, the judge allowed the document. She later explained that she accepted the document for its “germane” parts only. There was literally no germane parts accept for the number of children we had and my address! Third, my lawyer should have stopped the proceeding when the judge accepted the document so I could have the chance to refute it. In hindsight, I don’t think this lawyer did a good job at all. She wanted to deal with a cut and dry divorce, but was dealing with something the farthest from that. At my psychologist’s advice, I was telling her all the crazy things my ex was doing to me and my children, and she kept putting me off, telling me to ignore it. My ex totally outsmarted her! This is a lesson for others, if your lawyer is unresponsive, change lawyers. In dealing with a sociopath, you need a sharp, tough lawyer, one with a really good reputation. In dealing with a sociopath, mediation will not work, even if this is your philosophy. Sociopaths are too manipulative and controlling.
5) Another thing I noticed when I have been in court is that my ex makes these accusations, and when I go to protest, my lawyer will motion me to let it go. His advice is that you don’t want to seem like a hot head to the judge. You have to be calm and collected. But, it seems to me that these continual accusations (unchecked) make me sound like a horrible person. For example, at the end of our divorce trial, the judge asked my husband, “So, what is it you want?” He responded that he would like a few pictures of his children as babies because I wouldn’t let him have any, and he would like to have his tools from the garage because I wouldn’t let him have them. Now these accusations in and of themselves may not be bad, but when they are ongoing”.every time we are in court, another accusation (another lie) then the court gets an impression of me as manipulative and nasty. In truth, when I left my ex, I moved to my parent’s house and I only took the four albums I had put together for each child. I left all the pictures (which were boxes!) at the house. A year after I moved out, I ended up moving back into our marital home for a short time, because my parents had moved. When I moved back in, all the pictures were still there. He had the opportunity to take all the pictures. It was the same for his tools. He left them all in the garage, and when I was trying to clear the garage when we sold the house, my ex would not come and take his tools. I should have been requesting that he be forced to come and take them! These are only two examples of this, but he has accused me of not giving him report cards, throwing away my son’s hockey bag (worth thousands) in a fit of anger, not allowing his relatives to call the house. None of this is true and I actually have pictures of my son with the same hockey bag (he had the same personalized hockey bag for years) years later and expenses submitted by my ex do not show having to buy another whole set of equipment. I am sure too, that phone records could show that his relatives never even attempted to call my children. Maybe these small accusations don’t matter, but I feel when the GAL was appointed and started going through the records, and read these accusations that were not challenged, she was left with an untrue portrait of me.

Going through a custody case is very stressful and very expensive, especially when dealing with a sociopath. My biggest lesson is that you do have to be the general when dealing with the sociopath. Most people (lawyers, judges, Gals) have never dealt with a sociopath and are fooled by them. You have to do your best to get your point across. It’s such a messy ordeal.

I wish to god I knew about this book 8 years ago.

I have been accused from being a drug addict, to an alcholic, to sexually molestating my son, to allowing others to sexually molest my son, to physical abusing my son, to neglect in denying food if he is bad, to abandonment, to medical neglect, to mental instability. My son has sat through prayer vigils for me to heal me of my drugs and non christian ways while his step mother claims that she is truly his mother since I will die soon from my evil ways.

It has cost all of my life’s savings and I am still paying loans off for past attornies. I managed to get sole custody of my son but only after he found a loophole in the New Hampshire laws regarding jurisdiction. If there is a pending hearing in New Hampshire from the state of jurisdiction during a joint parent’s visitation that takes place longer than 48 hours, jurisdiction can be changed to New Hampshire. Which is exactly what he did by not paying child support for over six months. My son was spending a week with his dad in New Hampshire and he managed to time the contempt hearing for support so that it would take place during the visit. He was granted temporary sole custody in the state of New Hampshire pending an emergency order. He had forced my son to write a letter to a therapist there stating I would not feed him if he was bad, would be drunk all the timne, and would not give him his diabetes tests (which he does not have). I was not allowed to speak to my son for over three weeks and he was told that I was going away and would not be coming back for him.

Currently, my son’s father’s ex-fiancee who was part of the “liar’s army” finally realized that the problem was not me but him, is helping me retain my attorney. We have been to court 92 times this August 8th will be the 93rd.

I have fought long and hard in raising my son in the most normal atmosphere possible. Since losing his custodial rights, he has stepped up his game and is showing more and more how unstable he is. However, true to your statements the courts feel that I obsess over his actions and that he will never be the father that I think that he should be but that any kind of interaction is better than none. Which quite honestly could not be further from the truth.

My son was in therapy for three years and he finally opened up after his father was put on supervised visits (which he is no longer on because he was a “model” parent during that time). His therapist was shocked at the level of mental manipulation that his father had gone to. However, once he was no longer forced to do supervised visits, my son shut down and refused to even deal with any issue and often times became aggressive and beligerent when he was with his therapist. Life circumstances forced a career change for his therapist and we have not even bothered with a new one. My son is involved in the Big Brother program so that he has some positive male influence in life beside his two grandfathers.

The level of lies brought out in the courtroom go even further as “the liar” managed to obtain Pro Bono a Father’s Rights attorney. Not to mention that the liar presents himself so well with this attorney and up until 4 months ago I was pro se, that we were actually published in the New England law journal with the headline “Critically ill father found not in contempt”….the article portrayed me as a money hungry individual who was not allowing my son to see his father because he was unable to pay child support due to a severe medical condition…..all of which were lies….

I plan on putting out a journal for those single parents who may go through the same thing based on all my dealings with the Connecticut judicial system and the sociopath.

There is hope. My son fully realizes what his dad is and I am learning to play “the game” myself. He was using phone calls to play games and leave my son messages, etc. I disconnected my land line and the only phone access is through my cell phone which is with me at all times. Amazingly, the calls have stopped.

Fot those just starting in the court system, have faith. No matter what don’t give up…your child needs you to be strong and persevere. I have the best relationship with my son because of all the insanity the liar created……and that is the greatest gift of all.

Wow, this article and the comments above really hit home as my ex recently filed for custody of our youngest son. He stated that he was concerned about our environment. That was two months ago and I have yet to discover what his concerns are because he has never voiced them to me. He is very manipulative and I, like the person above, would agree to things in court just to appease him and get him off my back. NOT this time! After some research, I hired a lawyer who has a reputation as being a real bulldog. I know he is trying to make my son into his own personal “mini him” just by some of the things my son has said to me. And its sad to hear him talk like his father. Luckily, my ex only has him on the weekends so he does not have too much exposure but even what he has had has been damaging in my book. Wow, 93 times! I can’t imagine that but I know I’m in for a very long haul because this time I AM the General and I’m done taking his abuse.

FEAR False Evidence Appearing REAL.. we believed these lies told about us and succumbed to a false belief. Fear is also lack of Faith. Pray. Keep your head together. I like the fact pointed out eat right, get rest, HYDRATE….in the military it is demanded soilders drink a lot of water. Due to the fact that if you are not properly hydrated you are not at full capacity. If you are in a custody battle for your own children and your heart is in this war. You need to be at your full capacity. Feeligs aren’t facts so when you think it has taken a turn in the wrong direction don’t stop. God picked you as the Mommy!!! What an honor. Defend it. God helps those who help themselves. May God be with you…..

I’m involved in a divorce presently with a sociopath, we’ve been separated since September ’08. After repeated requests for a forensic psych eval, it has finally been granted. Has anyone had any experience with this type of eval, and if so was it helpful in limiting visitation or ending it all together? Thanks.

Wow! Glad to see some new “faces” here, though i have not had this particular problem, I never-the-less feel great empathy for those that must endure this torture! this sounds like a great resource for you all. glad you are all here, and welcome!

I have not been granted the eval, but hope to. It is my understanding that your ex may request that you too be evaluated. This is a standard and common procedure.
Mine too decided to punish me. It was very difficult to realize that neither the child, nor I matter any. His ex tells me, let him have the joint, he’ll tire of it soon and leave you be. But, I cannot do this to my child, however the amount of money I will be forced to spend. I cannot do this to his older siblings who love him and don’t want him in harm’s way.
Through my investigation, I am finding out a lot of discrepancies, and they are mind shuddering. I am more and more certain of his criminality and I was hoping for more capable institutions to continue my investigation that seems now to be far beyond just a civil matter. Has anyone on this site dealt with a similar issue?

does anyone know…if there is no custody or visitation ordered as of yet…does a parent have to allow the parents of the S (grandparents) anything as they are now viewing me as as enemy since exposing their S son…..I feel I have to protect at all costs!

End, I think you need to ask your attorney, but in honesty, I believe that this is your choice until court ordered. And even then, I am sure there are ways to dispute it, though I am not there yet. Let’s check in with each other. I feel we are going through the same very thing with variations. Stay strong & record, record, record everything.
I read in your previous post that his Mom was nasty on the phone while talking to your son. He’s only 3, if I recall correctly. He should not be “put in the middle” and that could be your defense, since already once she tried to manipulate your child. perhaps, your attorney would have a suggestion – i.e. supervised visitations, while grandparents are there?

ok..seriously I dont have an extra $75.00 right now..but just reading about this book…scares the hell out of me as we havent even started on custody/vistiation…

Katya..I agree..lets keep in touch…my biggest defense is my son has only known his S father for about 4 months..and that was a sad destructive time…he is married and has done damage there as well..so right now he is looking to try and look good with the help of his mother whomk I was very close to even when her own S son was doing all of this to me and she was on MY side…she is mad as I spoke to his wife and NOW i believe that everything she said is true…before the wife was the enemy ..now we are both the enemy..its sick and twisted!!

if you and his “other” wife put up a joint front, you are in a much better position. She is his mother. I bet, Just like you, she feels the need to protect. I hope she won’t be in your face too much, but the courts will see that she has a motive.

End, I just ordered the Newer Edition of this book via Amazon. It costs 130$. I will gladly make copies to mail them to you (it says there that the “Forms” are for copying, so I guess that means it isn’t a copyright issue). Perhaps, we can both communicate through Donna if she allows, and /or I’d send it to Donna at the legal address and she can re-send it to you for your and my protection.
god, I hate being scared of even my shadow, but now we must be prudent and careful with others.

yes..true..which is why his mother feels the need to protect..she believed me when I would tell her things and she was on my side…she never believed the wife…now she feels ahe has brainwashed me and hates me now too

Katya…Please ..yes let me know…and I agree I am scared…but very cautious!!

I paid for a 2 day delivery / so once it’s here, I will ask Donna privately if she’d do this for us. You can confirm this request on your side. We’ve got to help one another as best we can…
Do you feel your ability to trust even women has been hindered?
I can’t trust any strangers now. It’s terrible. And I am so hypervigilent, even going out with friends leads me to turn my head 15 times to check environment.
I Have had a gun pointed at me years ago, and several thefts (just my luck) but never felt so strongly

EndthePain,

I just found it. 🙂 Glad I could help.

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