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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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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