By | January 16, 2012 30 Comments

Psychopathic mom pressing for more time with the kids

Lovefraud received the following email from a man whom we’ll call “Brad.” He has two children with a woman who was diagnosed as a psychopath. Brad is concerned about the kids spending more time with their mother. After the email, I’ll make a few comments. But many of you have personal experience attempting to co-parent with personality disordered individuals, so if you have suggestions, please post them.

I have custody of my two children. My son is 12, and my daughter is 10. I’m remarried too. I have had custody since 12/2007. The kids are doing great. There grades are A’s and B’s. We have a happy home.

Ok, now the question. She was diagnosed as a psychopath, by a very professional psychologist. This is one of many reasons I got my children out of that poisoned atmosphere at her house. She also lost custody to another child.

I have been in court countless times, and have had the kids counsel with a very good lady that has helped them deal with her mind games. The other day the kids had to speak to the judge, and my daughter stated she wanted to live with her mother, and my son wants more time with her. She was on supervised visitation, but that only lasted about a year. It was found out that the mother has been pressuring the kids to “help mommy win this case.” How sad! As a dad that loves his kids more than anything, it is hard to have them say these things. I guess I understand to a point that a child wants to have two loving parents. With me, it is a game of survival to protect the kids. She is beyond good at mental manipulation of the kids’ minds.

I know the local judges just don’t understand how hard it is to live this kind of life. Always on guard, always cautious as to what to say in front of the kids, so they don’t slip, and say something that will in the end put them in more turmoil. The kids are now going through another evaluation with someone that concerns me. He has several ethical issues against him through the state licensing agency. He was granted to do this evaluation since she pushed the issue that I chose the last psychologist. I did recommend her, but only through references. The psychologist nailed her to the wall with who she is! Anyhow, how do you get the judges to see this? My attorney is very good, and I understand his tactics going in to this and showing how good the kids are doing, but he doesn’t want to get down in the “mud” much. My concern is how can a judge write a court order to deal with someone like this? It never ends—her violating the court order, but the court won’t put any teeth into keeping her in line, so the game continues!

I’m just nervous about custody and my children. They are my world! The advice I could use deals with the power she has on them to still be “loyal, defending her, and wanting more time.” The control she has on them is beyond my understanding. Even if we go shopping, they want things that are the “greatest” since the mother bought them. So, hard to get this ungodly loyalty.

By the way, we have a good home, and the kids are very happy, just so you don’t get the wrong impression.

I read some of the stories, and can within seconds relate to what this was like for me in the past. You heal, but boy does it make you see things in a much more guarded light!

A safe, loving home

First of all, Brad, I want to commend you for creating a home environment that enables your kids to thrive. This is really important. The best thing you can do is create a safe, loving and supportive home for them, where they feel welcome and cherished.

It is impossible for your ex to do this, because all psychopaths are only concerned about themselves and only want to win. Your ex wants the kids not because she loves them, but because she wants to win over you.

She can’t offer the kids real love, because she isn’t really concerned about their wellbeing. But right now, as you said, the game is on, so she probably engages in love bombing. This is showering them with attention and telling them how much she loves them, even though her words mean nothing. Many psychopathic parents also buy the kids’ affection by spending money on them and letting them do whatever they want— is she is doing this as well?

Then, of course, there’s the direct pressure: “Help mommy win this case.” This creates tremendous feelings of guilt in the children. They are made to feel responsible for her happiness.

Court tactics

You are right in that most judges don’t really understand what happens in these family situations. So what do you do?

First of all, document everything: Missed visitations. Lateness picking up or returning children. Failure to give medicine appropriately. Inappropriate child care. Subtle threats to you, the children, or others. Keep a good, organized journal of anything she does that is detrimental to the children’s growth and development. That way, when you need to explain what is really going on to a judge, you can do it with dates, times and references.

Secondly, you need to be careful not to openly denigrate her to the children. It sounds like you’re already doing this, but you don’t want to give her an excuse to claim “parental alienation.”

Finally, any communications with your ex should be “strictly business.” Just the bare exchange of relevant information regarding the children.

Here are some links that may help you:

10 tactics for child custody battles with sociopaths

Our Family Wizard can help you co-parent with a sociopath

Unfortunately, you may end up walking a real tightrope in court—especially if the new psychologist recommends that the children spend more time with the mother. Research shows that often, the person who is paying the psychologist gets the report that they want. If your wife is paying this person, then the psychologist may produce a report that is favorable to her.

More time with mom

It’s quite possible that between a clueless judge and an unethical psychologist, mom may win more time. Once that happens, she’ll probably stop the charade. She’ll start breaking promises, criticizing the kids and making them feel unwanted and insignificant. She may actually become abusive.

You, in the meantime, will continue to offer a rock steady, safe environment for them. Kids are smart. They’ll know the difference.

Eventually, they’ll get tired of their mother’s lies. If you’ve given them a solid foundation and are consistently loving, the time may come when they’d rather be with you than her.

So, readers, what do you think? Do you have more suggestions for Brad?

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Ox Drover

Dear Brad,

I am really sooooo sorry you are having to go through this with your kids, but like Donna, want to commend you for doing the best you can to provide a loving happy home for your kids.

I think Donna’s advice to you is very good, and hopefully after this battle, win or lose on her part, she will then stop the “love bombing” with the kids and revert to type and start devaluing them or not followiing up on the visits etc

I hope you realize that you are NOT ALONE in this, and I think from your comments that you do realize that. It is important to us that we realize we aren’t alone. Your kids will hopefully eventually start to SEE how she ACTS and won’t be able to be BOUGHT off with trinkets and junk! Hang in there! God bless.


Dear Brad ~

Unfortunately, I guess I am one of those who has had experience in child custody cases with a psychopath. In my situation, the psychopath is my daughter and the child is my grandson. He is 11 and we have had custody since 2005, but like yours, these custody cases never go away, any more than the psychopath. We have been in four different courts in two different counties spanning a time period of 10 years.

In my experience, I see several very positive things in your favor. 1. You have had custody for the past 4 years and have provided a CONSISTENT & STRUCTURED (remember those words and use them over and over – they are key words a judge likes to hear) loving home life. 2. She has been diagnosed. 3. She had another child removed from her custody. 4. You do not “bad mouth her” to the children, so like Donna mentioned they can not claim parental alienation.

If I undestood you correctly, they are currently being evaluated by a psychologist that you do not have faith in. If it is not too late, could you request a forensic psychiatrist to do a 360 evaluation on EVERYONE involved, x-wife, you and your present wife, the kids. They will review all the old records, school records, EVERYTHING involved in the case. The warning here, this is very expensive, usually between $3,000 to $6,000 and if you request it, you may have to pay the entire amount.

Has a GAL been assigned to your case? They are neutral and are SUPPOSE to represent the best interest of the children (not the children’s wishes). The court usually takes their recommendations very seriously. Although we had a very bad experience with one GAL, I would still recommend them, most are very competent. This fee is USUALLY split between the parties.

Donna has given most of the important advice about documenting everything, the good, bad and ugly.

Oxy is right, sooner or later her mask will fall with your children and they will see her for what she is. The more time they spend with her, the more apt this is to happen. It won’t take them long to come to an understanding of why they are with you.

I am sure that she is playing the “poor mommie” pity ploy with them and they probably feel sorry for her. I know it is hard, but don’t take their feelings personally. You are doing a great job giving them a stable, happy, loving home life. I also know how hard it is to keep from expressing your negative feelings in front of the children, I have to bite my lip sometimes to keep from blurting it all out. But as you mentioned, it is not something that would benefit their emotional well being at this point.

My best wishes to you in this ordeal. I understand your nerves, there is just SO MUCH at stake and when you have to leave it in a stranger’s (the court) hands, oh my.

Please keep us posted on how you are doing. Bless you Brad, your children are blessed with a caring Dad.


Brad –

One other thing, Donna is right again, if she does win extra visitation time and she feels she has “won”, she probably won’t take advantage of it.

Almost immediately after being awarded extra visitation, my daughter lost interest (AGAIN) and her weekly visits are now 1 every 6 to 8 weeks and her nightly phone calls are about 1 every other week. Then you are left trying to make the kids understand why “mommie dearest” rejects them yet again.

Unfortunately, the courts don’t see that part.


I’m sorry you have experienced a spath. welcome to the club.

While it’s possible that she will be temporarily sated if she gets more time with the kids, there is a good chance that she will continue to need more drama.

My advice is reverse psychology. Spaths want your emotions. They get these by taking what you value most. In your case, it’s your kids. IMO, you need to grit your teeth temporarily and make everyone think that you are grateful that your ex is taking an interest in the kids. Tell the kids that the ex has really grown and that she is NO LONGER doing X but instead is doing Y. (make X one of the horrible things that you know she’ll do again) Tell the exspath that you hope she is turning over a new leaf, because the kids “love their mother and shouldn’t feel abandoned”. Be such a pollyanna that the spath believes you.

Then make her think that you and your wife are looking forward to time alone.

In other words, never let the spath see what you really care about, use misdirection.

If the spath ends up getting more time with the kids, I do agree that they will eventually feel her sting. The only real danger I see is that spaths will often ensnare their victims in guilt and shame. They will entice the victim to do something that will be hard to live down. Your mission is to keep an open line of communication with your kids so that they never feel the need to hide anything from you. Instill boundaries and moral conviction in them. I don’t think it’s ever to early to teach kids about spaths. You don’t have to say that their mommy is a spath. You simply need to point out the evil machinations in characters from movies, books and real life.

Examples are everywhere. I spoke with a 15 year old girl about my spath experience and she immediately understood. She explained to me that her best friend in 8th grade had been that way. And she also recalled a boy she dated who tried to manipulate her and call her a whore, even though she was a virgin. Kids, I think, are actually more alert for emotional manipulations. They only need to be validated so that they understand what they are witnessing and feeling.

Good luck to you.


Sky ~ I think your reverse psychology advice is very valid, at least it is what I have noticed with my daughter. The more I make her think her visits are welcomed or that she is helping me by taking Grand for awhile, the less we hear from her. The only problem is Sky, it is very hard to offer your kids up to this kind of monster. If Brad’s x has previously neglected, abused or even been drunk or high when she is responsible for them, it is almost impossible to just give in and let her spend time with them. It is something that you just have to fight for. I do think it would work, but it comes down to – are you willing to take the chance? It is very hard.

I also think there are ways to teach kids about their spath parent, without “bad mouthing” them. Like you say, movies, books, stories or pointing out things about other people. EB mentioned a movie, not too long ago, that her kids made the connection with. I don’t remember the name of it right now. I like to watch movies with Grand that are filled with life lessons and see what he picks out of the movie. We just watched Blindside, that is good for why some kids can’t live with their moms.


I know it’s hard. I can’t imagine anything harder.

The spath already gets time with Bob’s kids, and there is nothing he can really do about it. So he might as well use those times to make the spath think he has other plans. Maybe short vacations or movie night out with the wife. The more that the spath sees him ENJOYING the time away from his kids, the less she will want them. He doesn’t actually have to go anywhere, she just has to think he did.

Spaths are naturally envious. They ALL have that at the root of their PD, so we might as well take advantage of it.

Ox Drover

I agree with the make her think she is giving him time away from the kids to do HAPPY THINGS he couldn’t do with the kids….that she is actually doing him a SERVICE by taking the kids….not give her any extra time, but just make sure that the time she DOES GET is seen by her as a way for him to get ALONE TIME WHICH HE WANTS or time with his wife he couldn’t have with the kids. In other words, she is his UNPAID BABY SITTER for him to use to have FUN.

Of course don’t let the kids hear that, but just her in CASUAL conversation…or maybe let the kids hear how much FUN he is going to have while they are gone….she sure won’t appreciate being an UNPAID BABY SITTER.

Maybe just a comment about how hard it is to find good sitters so he and the wifie can have some time. LOL


Proof that it works – if you remember, I gave her a hard time about the Thanksgiving visit and she made my life miserable until I broke gray rock and screamed my head off.

Well, Christmas, I gave her a choice of everything – day, time, place and I acted excited to do it. Her response – she could not do Christmas Day, busy – she could not do day after Christmas, busy – she could give Grand 2 hours on Christmas Eve, then she was busy. Christmas Visit – 2 whole hours, I could do that. Grand did it then said, let’s go home and have a real Christmas.

Moral of the story – Brad – it does work.

Ox Drover

MiLo, GREAT!!!!! Yeppers, it does work!



They are just soo determined to make us miserable. That is their goal. So make them think something will make us miserable and you can BE ABSOLUTELY SURE they will do it.

My spath did it to me for 25 years. I never imagined why EVERYTHING in my life went wrong. Nothing ever worked out, I was always disappointed. The last few years I wished I was dead and yet I never figured out that it was HIM sabotaging, my health, my home, my car, my heart. It was non-stop 24/7.

He must SURELY miss me.


Yea, just like a little kid, if you want them to eat their dinner just say don’t you dare eat that dinner !!!!!!!

Yes, Sky, no wonder he is trying so hard to get you to answer him, he NEEEEEEEDS YOU.


Hi all Brad here,
The story you just responded to is mine! I really appreciate all of you taking the time to give me your input! So much happens when you are constantly dealing with a person like this.
The funny thing now is that the psychologist doing this “new” evaluation which was court ordered, and she chose him, has now backed out! I’m not sure how he could do that? I will be meeting with my attorney and reviewing this this week. Wow, this guy is “something”! He called my ex’s attorney, and told him that he could not recommend switching custody, and when my attorney called him after getting a letter with all this called him. He told my attorney that he might recommend an over night during the week if he was to go to court!!! Well, so here we are. First, why would this guy call just one attorney, and not have contacted both? Why would he tell me that the women is “nuts” to my face, and tell me how good of a dad I am, but not want to back it in court? He has had ethical issues against him. I want to say more, and there is lots more I could say, but with my case pending, I better not say to much for fear of retaliation. I will say it would be very hard for him to come up with to much good about her when there are other professionals going to be in court, and he would be on his “own” little island if he backed her!
I better add this that I have had my children seeing a local counselor for over three years, and she will be testifying as to how bad the this is affecting the children with all the games, and guilt being put on them, and also that is the three years seeing her at no time did they ask, or want more time with her. She has witnessed first hand the mother trying to make her look bad to the point as having her best “friend” set up an appointment, and try to trap her with phony ethic charges! I’m sure some of you are smiling now with your own stories, and I would love to hear them.
The part that makes this somewhat humorous is no matter how much you say you aren’t going to waste your time trying to figure her next move, you still catch yourself doing that, AND it never ever fails they still can blind side you with an out of this world psycho… tactic.
There’s never a night that I don’t lay down and snuggle with my kids though…., so it is all worth the crap you have to go through to love and protect your children.
Thanks Brad


One more thing…Brad here,
I want to thank Donna for all the hard work she had done to make this site available for us to “vent” some! It does help knowing you aren’t alone dealing with this.


Brad: My best thoughts and wishes are with you at this time.
I am sorry for the turmoil your life is currently going through.

Donna is right: kids are smart. THEY are wanting that more time with her, let them have it. I agree with Donna, completely…they will eventually come back to the nest that offers them the most comfort and less dysfunction.

You sound like a GREAT FATHER and I would tell you to keep being that GREAT FATHER with grace and understanding. They are trying to fill a void by wanting more time with their mother. Perhaps they need a ‘trial run’ to see what it is truly like…to find answers to questions that are so important to them.

I am sure they must KNOW you love them.
Let them go and find out for themselves and they will be back posthaste…they have choices too, even if they are kids.

Thoughts and prayers to you…we are here for you if you need us. Remember that kids have to find answers too, sometime.
I used to be one of those kids….




Brad ~ Our grandson had also been seeing the same counselor/psychologist for five years. In our state, the only thing this counselor was allowed to testify to was how the visits affected the child. She was not allowed to give her opinion about increasing visitation or if the visitations were in the child’s best interest. Why – because we were the ones paying her and she was considered predjudiced. You may want to ask your attorney if such a law exists in your state.

Good luck

Ox Drover

Sky and MiLo talking about how you use “reverse psychology” on kids and psychopaths….made me think about how I used to get my kids to wash dishes…from the time they were VERY young when they really weren’t a help but they wanted to stand in a chair and play in the dish water (didn’t have an automatic dish washer then) I would say “If you’re not good, you can’t wash dishes tonight!” and they were like 11 and 12 when they figured out that WASHING DISHES WAS NOT A PRIVILEGE! They’d been actually washing the dishes for YEARS by the time they figured it out. LOL Did a lot of that with them….by the time they were in high school they figured the only reason I had kids was because I didn’t like to mow grass or wash dishes! LOL LOL ROTFLMAO but it worked!


Oxy ~ One of my favorites has been – you are really not “strong” enough yet to clean stalls. They were all more than happy to prove me wrong. Grand is still falling for that one. LOL I know, I have always made it a priviledge to ride on the hay wagon. I still have grown kids that love to make hay…..

Seriously though, with the spath daughter, I think back to that first year we had full custody of Grand. I did everything I could to try to make her visit, I begged, pleaded, shamed, demanded, screamed. Nothing worked, she would not call or visit. Then I said enough is enough, I’m not letting you disappoint this child any more, no more visits until you seek help and get your act together. That is when the trouble started – her #1 goal was to make us let her visit.

There really is a lesson to be learned here. It is just in the moment, at the time, you are so preoccupied with protecting the child, you can not see it.

I sure would have saved a bundle of money.

Ox Drover

Yea, I used the “you are not big enough” to do things…like mow the lawn, run the tiller in the garden…LOL With the kids it worked. With your daughter I think it would work wonders. Some ex husbands as well.

Haven’t had much success with it with my P son or my egg donor, and not with my ex boy friend, or my ex DIL but I t hink I have driven her away from the one place that we both went (an auction) by using the Laugh at her technique…loud enough she could over hear me laughing at her and telling my friend about her arrest!

I think you sort of have to use different methods on different Ps, but of course NEVER let them know what you REALLY want or care about….that is a GIVEN. With co-parenting you have to play it by ear sometimes and making them think that you enjoy the time away from the kids and they are an unpaid sitter will sometimes make them NOT want to take the kids which is your goal.


Oxy ~ something is going on with her right now and I have no clue what it is. I THINK she has run out of doctors and hospitals that are willing to give her pain medications. Now she is making the rounds for anti depressants.

We haven’t heard one word from her for almost two weeks. The last I heard was when redial was hit on her phone and I got that empty call with background sounds only. The sounds were her and boyfriend screaming at each other. In the past, I would have listened to see what information I could hear. This time I hung up and just didn’t care. I think that I have realized she just can’t hurt me anymore. I have the power to block her attacks. Hope I am right.

Ox Drover


Interesting about the butt-call on her phone.

US Realizing that they can’t hurt us by denying us love unless we allow it is a good thing. I think it is coming close to the NIRVANA OF INDIFFERENCE on our part.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it is INDIFFERENCE” When we can become INDIFFERENT to them then we are truly and fully out of their grasp of hurting us. Now that doesn’t mean they
can’t kill us or hurt someone we love, it simply means that we no longer desire their love or care or think they are going to reform or love us the way we loved them.

My “little boy” that I loved, my son, is GONE just like your daughter is GONE never to return….the adults we are dealing with (you as a co-parent) and me as a stalker are STRANGERS to us, not someone we love any more. It is a “Shame” but that’s the way the cookie crumbles and the way we have to deal with things. So, that being the case, we do what we have to do to keep them at arm’s length where they can’t in your case, hurt your Grand, and in my case, can’t kill me.

I don’t wish my son would die, but at the same time, if I heard he was dead, it would be a RELIEF to me, not a grief. I’ve DONE with the grief, I’ve cried all the tears for the boy I loved, and he is gone, dead and buried. The stranger, the man, is not someone I love.


Oxy ~ you are right on with that one. Grand’s long time psychologist (smartest woman on earth) said it would be so much easier for Grand if she had died and he could grieve for her and move on.

Then she helped him to grieve the mother he deserved, but didn’t get and move on. I think it works.

Ox Drover


I’m glad that he has a great therapist, that I am sure is also your best avenue to getting the Grand into a reasonable life. To be able to grieve the mother we never had or the son who is gone is I think a good thing.

I think a lot of our healing over the injuries done to us by the psychopaths is grief work. My “mother” is dead, the egg donor still lives, but she is not my “mother” and never really was. I look back now and see that, if I had a mother it was my grandmother when I was little and she did nurture me to the best of her ability and available time. All of my early memories as a less than 3 year old are of her, I have NO memories of my egg donor.


Dear Brad,

The best armor for your children is knowledge. Give them the information that they need to understand what they are dealing with. Children are so much more insightful than people realize. They would not have confided their issues with the “help mommy win the case” situation if they had no figured out that this was not in their best interest.

It is good that they are in therapy, but strengthen their base of awareness by teaching them about the organic nature of this brain dysfunction (there is a book coming out on the topic by a medical professor, James Fallon, that speaks to the differences between a sociopath’s brain and that of normal people’s.

Keep giving them the nurturing that they need to feed healthy self-esteem and they can fend her off themselves.

Good luck


Ox Drover

Dear Cactusflwr, thanks for you post and welcome to LoveFraud. What is the name of the book if you know? I and others are always interested in books about psychopathy that are science based. The research that is coming out now is really interesting and informative. Thanks!

Ox Drover

Here is a wiki link to a bio of James Fallon the scientist.


Brad, great article and a topic that is ALWAYS at the forefront of my mind. I wish you all of the best with your case. I pray for the safety and well being of your children. I agree with Donna and everyone who said that eventually, your children will be able to see through her and prefer the loving, stable environment with you and your wife. I 100% agree with Skylar’s consistent advice of GRAY ROCKing your ex. In my experience, and those of others I have read here, Spaths are notorious emotional vampires and I think it is only through causing pain to others that they feel empowered, and maybe the closest thing to glee they could ever experience. Don’t give that witch the satisfaction of knowing she can get to you. By hearing how much you love your children, it’s obvious she’s going for your jugular and trying to cause you as much pain as possible.

I believe these spathy types to be such expert manipulators that they can anticipate some of the misdirection moves, but I would be willing to try anything in the sake of my daughter’s well being so I would say be open to anything… And maybe I’m giving them too much credit, lol! I’m not sure it would work with my Spath… It sounds like there are some on here who have had success with it. And there is a lot of collective wisdom and experience from what I have seen in a few short months of coming to LF.

Unfortunately, I obsess about court over visitation although I haven’t been served with an appearance notice yet. I found out from mutual acquaintances that the ex SPATH is planning on taking me back to court for more visitation. (He currently has 2x a month, supervised). My daughter is just coming up on 14 months old. I try to remind myself that it’s not here yet, and all I have to do is live in the moment, but prepare for the future. I try to remind myself that the fear I live with is another form of control over me, whether or not it was intended. It was pretty probable his intentions would come back to me, but I have no way of knowing for sure. Yet, I find myself constantly planning what I would do, how I would attempt to rebutt slanderous attacks against me by spathy and his evil mom, etc.

My fear over the situation has gotten to the point where every time I hear there was an accidental death on our island, I literally plead to God to please let it be my ex. I feel horrible about this, but I cannot see any outcome where his involvement in her life will have a positive effect. And I know he is only doing this to torment me. I don’t think he will ever leave us alone. When he could see our daughter 24/7, he had better things to do and wasn’t interested. It’s only now that he has the need to “win” and punish me in the process that he has any interest.

In my custody agreement, the judge has agreed to let me leave the state with my daughter, with subsequent visitation to be mutually agreed upon by both parties, supervision to be at the mother’s discretion. I will NEVER agree to unsupervised visitation, but he is making a pretty good show of “reforming” his life. The judge we had is known for being a hard-ass, and the lawyer I spoke with told me my ex would have a very difficult time altering her decision, but I have read too many shady outcomes, especially on this site, to be reassured.

So, for me, the best bet is to relocate as soon as financially feasible. My motto these days is to “bloom where I am planted” but I do always have a portion of my mind focused on getting us into a safer situation. If money was no object and I didn’t have to worry about the ins and outs of just vanishing in the night, we would be on the next flight outta here. But I have to be patient and create the best circumstances I can to ensure a successful relocation…

Divorced from Gaslighter


Would the increase in custody time that your ex is requesting involve or potentially involve a school change? Does she live in the same school district as you and the kids? Judges HATE tinkering with the custody schedule with kids of those ages because it can cause a decline in school performance, especially if the new schedule is more hectic than the old one.

If she has the children for weekends now, does she make sure that they brush their teeth every night? If she picks the children up from school on Friday and they spend a three-day weekend with her, and the children have crud all over their teeth, take them IMMEDIATELY to a dentist when she brings them back. The dentist can tell the difference between Today’s food residue and Thursday night’s, and he can take photos and file a medical neglect report on your ex. This might escalate things in a bad way, so I would wait until she actually GAINS additional custody time before resorting to this.

I would echo what several others have said — she probably only wants more custody time if it MAKES YOU ANGRY/UPSET.

You and your wife should be VERY careful not to say much of anything to the kids about the upcoming court case, as you don’t want to look like manipulators yourselves, but if there is a book written for kids who are in this situation, buy it and leave it your bedroom. The kids may see it and read it. Or maybe a teenager in your circle of acquaintance whose parents’ have divorced could talk to the kids (while working at your house as a babysitter, etc.) The message from the teenager should be along the lines of “don’t box yourself into a crummy schedule — you have rights, too.”

The bottom line is that by the time your older child hits 14 and starts high school, most of this nonsense will be over. “The big dogs sleep where they like.” Try to get your kids involved in the Marching Band. Lots of nice kids are always involved in that, and their schedule would be very busy (while leaving lots of legitimate opportunities for their mom to come and watch them perform if she chooses.)

The one thing that I might risk talking to the kids about if I were in your shoes is that as they get to junior high and high school, their schedules are going to get a lot busier, because they are going to want to socialize with friends, get involved in extracurricular activities, and perhaps get a part-time job. They are going to want to have as much flexibility as possible, and a court-ordered schedule that boxes them in to every other weekend here, every Thursday after school there is going to limit what they can do during their adolescence. As they start changing classes, and having more homework, having school books and assignments and athletic uniforms “forgotten” at the other parent’s house is going to be a constant source of frustration.

Good luck, and remember that even if the worst happens and your ex gets substantially more custody, the new custody paradigm may be very temporary indeed. My custody fight with my ex went on for about 6 years off and on, and when it was finally settled, with him getting every other weekend and one night a week (after he had asked for full custody) he immediately refused to do the one night a week, and a few months later, he left the country for five years.


Hi Divorced from Gaslighter ~ great name

I liked all your suggestions, I can instantly tell you are a “been there, done that” kind of parent.

Your last paragraph – do they all read the same book or what? They cost you thousand of dollars demanding custody and/or extended visitation and once they have it – poof – gone.

Divorced from Gaslighter

One thing I should have mentioned, is that people (not just sociopaths) often want “extra” time with the children if that means that their child support will thereby be reduced. Anybody facing a custody fight with a bad apple of any flavor should try to put themselves in a decent place before filing for divorce (wait until the youngest child is in school, finish your degree, get a job with medical benefits, make sure that you are already living in decent housing in a “good-enough” school district, etc.) and then try to get the ex-spouse to agree to a schedule where the kids go back and forth on a flexible basis, both parents agree to keep medical insurance in place, and both parents agree to pay for 1/2 of pre-agreed major costs: orthodontic work; musical instrument when Johnny starts 4th grade and is eligible to be in the band, etc.)

Under this type of set-up, the ex will usually either be a decent parent (if they are capable of that) or they will fade away. If they refuse to pay for half of the orthodontic work, etc., when the time comes, it would be foolish to pick a fight with them over it. Just let Johnny know at some point that the ex went to Europe to go skiing, but couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t come up with his share of the cost of the treatment.

But if you can de-link the custody and the money, it helps to defuse a lot of problems, because most people (not all) realize that if they can see the child whenever they want AND they don’t have to make a support payment, they are “winners” in the game of divorce.

Ox Drover

Dear Divorced,

Quote:if they can see the child whenever they want AND they don’t have to make a support payment, they are “winners” in the game of divorce.

That is of course very true. It is all a GAME of get out without paying anything…unless the parent is a real parent who loves their kids and then they will be willing to pay a fair share of the upkeep of a kid…make their visits fair and reasonable and will keep their commitment to their children made when the child was conceived. TO BE A PARENT.

Psychopaths are not able to do that, to keep up a reasonable parenting where the child’s needs come first.

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