Lovefraud frequently receives e-mails and phone calls from people who are divorcing a sociopath and are afraid they’re going to get trashed in court. They know the sociopaths will lie—smoothly and convincingly—and are terrified that the manipulator will end up winning the money, the house, and custody of the kids.
If you’re facing family court battles with a sociopath, I recommend that you buy and read Splitting—Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist, by William A. Eddy. It may be the best $25 you ever spend.
Eddy, the author, is both a therapist (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and an attorney. He understands the law, the courts and how people with personality disorders can manipulate them. You need to understand all of this as well.
The book explains the court process; the roles of attorneys, evaluators and other professionals; how to gather evidence; and generally what to expect.
Tactics and strategies
As the subtitle suggests, Splitting refers to people with borderline and narcissistic personality disorders, whom Eddy calls “persuasive blamers.” References to sociopaths are limited. Still, the tactics and strategies he suggests would be helpful in dealing with a sociopath as well.
One of Eddy’s main points is that you must be assertive right from the beginning of your case. The blamer may accuse you of infidelity, mental instability, child abuse or sexual misconduct—accusations which the court will take seriously. You must be prepared to respond to the accusations immediately. Once the court issues judgments and rulings—even if they are based on lies—it is very difficult to get them undone later.
Eddy discusses the importance of documentation, and how it can bolster your case. In fact, the book includes an interview with a man who aggressively gathered documentation to prove his wife’s pattern of behavior to the court evaluator. Four former husbands gave statements indicating that she had done the same things to them that she was doing to him.
Should you mention the disorder?
Eddy also has a chapter devoted to whether or not you should have an expert testify about the personality disorder. He recognizes the dilemma:
If you are too aggressive about raising this subject, the judge may be angry with you for seeming to attack someone’s personality.
Yet if the judge does not fully understand the personality dynamics beneath the surface, the court may misunderstand your case and get it backwards.
From my experience and the input of others, it appears best to gently present this information to the court, but not rely on it being accepted.
Eddy then outlines ways in which psychological information may be presented, and how it may affect the outcome of the case, even if it is not explicit in court rulings.
Splitting is available online from BPDCentral.com. If you’re going to family court against a sociopath, read this book.