Divorce, custody and personality disorders

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 If you’re going to family court against a sociopath, read this book.

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113 Comments on "Divorce, custody and personality disorders"

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Dear Skylar,

I have been encouraging son to spend lots of time with his friends, they are in marching band together and a good group of kids. Some of his peers are good role models and my oldest daughter’s boyfriend is a good role model. Unfortunately my dad is a narcissist, pretty textbook in my opinion.

Your story about the man giving his son a conflicting message is putting the son in a double bind. There is no solution. This is where some cluster b’s originate because the child will develp a ‘false self’. It usually occurs at a young age so at least my son is probably free of a personality disorder because I primarily raised him and I saw no signs of one, but he is still very conflicted. Not to say I was or are a perfect mom but I am a better parent than the spath.

Son is due for his physical and I am going to make sure the doctor checks him out fully.

The woman I met in my support group last night had a similar situation to mine, hers was 10 years ago and she is divorced from the spath. Her couselor told her off the record, “My advice to you would be to take the kids and go to Brazil.” The spath had too much influence with her kids, sometimes it does seem like moving far away from the spath would solve so many problems. No doubt that the spath would file charges and I would never be able to come home.

But heres the catch…..your son will not have the opportunity to learn about his father first hand……and as an adult, would always hate you for not allowing him his ‘natural’ life he was born into. He’d find spath sooner or later…..hed run away from you and find spath. That is way more dangerous.
As unfortunate as it is…’s the was it’s gotta work. As long as your kids are not in physical danger…..the emotional crap must happen for the kids to learn. Just like how we had to learn it about our spouses. The hard way! Yes….it sucks……but i’ve seen way to many parents degrade the other….(spath or not) during a divorce and it ALWAYS bites the good parent in the butt!
This is the time you must have faith in YOUR parenting and YOUR relationship and time you’ve spent raising your son. It’s hard……because you look at it as a 50-50 chance…..he’ll see it. But with the foundation you’ve provided your son…….he’ll get it. Let him discover his truth on his own.

(And I know you wouldn’t take off with Jr….as tempting as it may be).

Now…..that all said. I think it would be different if the kids were 2,4, 5 years old…….
Abuse on a mothers child will sure bring out the bear in her!!!! A mother will do ANYTHING to protect her children…’s just innate.

Your Jr is older though……let him have his ‘relationshit’ with his father…….it’s either now or later. Now is good. He won’t have any questions like …….what if’s.

Keep prudent…..Keep a watchful eye and keep gardening in jr’s flower bed!!

I own splitting , I was gifted it during my divorce and this book is AMAZING!!!!! if you can, also read “why does he do that? by lundy bancroft. Splitting has quotes from this book

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