By September 19, 2012 57 Comments Read More →

The “Unsustainable Pseudo Co-Parenting” Phase of Custody with a Psychopath

In the past couple of weeks, I have come to realize that my Custody War with Luc (my sons sociopathic father) has entered a new phase – I’ll call this phase the “unsustainable pseudo co-parenting” phase.  The initial Custody Trial is over and our Family Law case has been closed.  No matter how bad the judge, lawyers, and supervised exchange professional all want us to go away, none of these people are going to be able to cure Luc of his psychopathy so “going away” is not going to happen.

In my post last week, I noted that my lawyer had suggested me and Luc get “Family Therapy” in order to learn how to communicate with each other.  I have thought a lot about this suggestion, and its clear and unabashed ridiculousness.  Here I thought that my attorney’s had gotten up close and personal, witnessed the crazy, and understood the depth of Luc’s disorder over the past year.  After suggesting that I sit in a room across from my own personal terrorist, however, it became clear that I had been in this fight alone and I was really nothing more than – a client.


Unsustainable “Plan”:

At several points during this Custody War, I remember asking my attorneys to try and make the Custody Order as detailed as possible.  I knew that with any vague language, Luc would go to town and continue to terrorize me and baby boy at every turn.  I ended up being somewhat disappointed with the final order as it left several unanswered questions and had holes big enough for Luc to drive a truck through.  What we ended up with appeared to be a bandaid instead of a real plan.

By giving Luc weekly visitation, the court was asking us to “co-parent” (all be it minimally considering I was granted sole legal custody).  I was asked to share “critical information” with Luc via third party (i.e. attorneys) and we were never to communicate directly with each other.  The court recognized, at least somewhat, that there was a physical threat involved with direct contact and that “co-parenting” in the classic sense was not possible.  The court failed to address, however, how on earth we were supposed to “co-parent” given that communication was too dangerous.  They didn’t cover this issue in the court mandated Co-Parenting class I was forced to attend (that Luc was able to effectively skip without accountability).

The supervisor for the exchanges has expressed that she will not pass messages between us, as Luc has already attempted to use her as his personal secretary on numerous occasions.  His lawyer has dumped him for not paying her and my attorneys are sick of this case and want me to “go to family therapy” vice bother them with important information to pass (such as medical emergency and doctors information).


Pseudo Co-Parenting:

According to wikipedia (which I understand is not always a reliable source), the principle of co-parenting states that a child has always and in any case the right to maintain a stable relationship with both parents, even if they are separated or divorced, unless there is a recognized need to separate him/her from one or both parents.

(Note:  As I am sure many of you who have been through a Custody War with a psychopath will agree, the threshold for a “recognized need” to separate a child from one or both parents is extremely high.)

I take real issue with this concept of co-parenting.  The idea of co-parenting fails to take into account parents who are not capable of sustaining “stable” relationships with anyone – including their own children.

That all being said, I call this phase I am in “pseudo co-parenting” because its not co-parenting in the true sense at all.  It feels as if I am going through all the motions (so to follow the court order), but I am waiting for the next shoe to drop because this is not reality.

What the court failed to realize is that it doesn’t always boil down to the child’s right to maintain a relationship with both parents.  I think my son has the right to have a father who cares about him, is stable, and who capable of maintaining a healthy relationship with him; however, I understand that this is not possible given WHAT Luc is – a psychopath.  I would like for a magical genie to show up at my front door and grant me three wishes too, but will also never happen.


The Waiting Game:

I received some legal advice this week from at attorney who has been practicing for nearly 30 years.  She also specializes in cases involving domestic violence.  I went to her for some advice on how to manage situations that appear unsustainable and how to deal with this new “phase” of the Custody War.  After hearing my story, she said “you need to learn that you cannot ”˜manage’ a person like this.  You are dealing with someone who is dysfunctional at his core; therefore, any time you spend trying to make him functional will be a complete waste of your time.”

This advice seemed so simple and obvious.  I felt a little ridiculous that I needed a lawyer to point this out to me after an entire year of feeling like I am beating my head against a wall to come up with a solution to this madness.  This lawyer was dead on point.  She identified after only a five minute conversation that I was trying to manage Luc, trying to make him less dysfunctional, and trying to make him a better father.

The ugly truth is that this phase of “unsustainable pseudo co-parenting” is maddening.  This phase is difficult because while it appears impossible and unsustainable, and there doesn’t seem to be a playbook on how to fix the situation.  There are a lot of things I won’t have control over.  No matter how much I document and how much I plan for the safety and protection of my baby boy, Luc will continue to lie, deceive, and terrorize.

So, for now, I battle my nerves and practice my “grey rock” of emotions when faced with Luc’s terror and menacing behavior.  There are many things out of my control in this situation, but I can control one thing – I can be the best mother I know how to be.  This is going to be one bumpy ride and the war is far from over.

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57 Comments on "The “Unsustainable Pseudo Co-Parenting” Phase of Custody with a Psychopath"

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I understand every single pain you’re going through, I am in the same war with my sociopath husband, we have been going through a nightmare divorce for over a year. He changed 3 attorneys so far. We have a 4 y.o. girl. Judge number 3 ordered to take co parenting classes but the idea is utterly useless since there is nothing will change this man unless he will find a new victim to terrorize. He is using our child as a tool to hurt me and it breaks my heart. I was pregnant on my own, he came 3 days before our baby was born, now he wants all her to himself like I was just a piece of meat. Nothing mattered in the court, not only the fact that he was stalking, harassing, building nasty websites about me but also the fact that he is a sexual deviant, porn addicted individual with no employment. I do have a primary custody but we haven’t had our final hearing and the judges seem to close their eyes on everything while he gets away with violating orders, withholding our child for weeks on end denying me access to her. I shed lots of tears, went through months of counselling. I understand that all in all I’m all on my own, no attorneys or anybody cares, that just want to be paid and left alone. People get sick and tired of our nightmare case and as soon as it mentioned just run away. He has extremely toxic influence on my girl. She is brainwashed in so many ways that after I pick her up after his supervision it takes my couple days to have her adjusted. I know he will keep on destroying her little mind and nothing is as painful for the mother as this. There is no way we can communicate ever. Our communication has been strictly managed through attorney again, who don’t care. There are so many holes in the orders that gives my husband ammunition to use and abuse it the way he wants. The more time we spend in the court the more I realize how helpless I get. Nothing seem to work.

Dear sltanya11,

I am so so sorry you are going through such a night mare. I hope you will stay around here and read and learn. You are NOT alone, there are many others here in the same shoes. God bless.

Sltanya11, I’m very sorry to read of your experiences. Welcome to LoveFraud.

OxD is spot-on: stick around, read articles (especially the ARCHIVED ones), and you’ll soon realize that many, many readers on this site have gone through similar experiences.

The one thing that I will type that may give you something to consider is this: Family Court does not work in truths, common sense, or what’s reasonable for children. Family Courts mistakenly maintain that children require BOTH parents to develop into healthy, successful members of society, and that is simply NOT true.

There is no “winning” when fighting legal battles against a spath. The only one winning are the attorneys who earn handsome incomes, and the spath for the drama/trauma that they create.

There are “ways” to manage your type of situation, and some of them aren’t easy, and others aren’t pleasant. Keep reading. Keep posting. And, it may be a good option to get involved in some strong counseling therapy with someone that “gets it” about sociopaths.

Brightest blessings


It breaks my heart when I read experiences where children are involved. I am so sorry.

There are many people here who have been through what you are enduring so, as Truthy said, keep posting. You will find a fantastic support network here. Good luck my dear.

Married a sociopath/Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) 19 years ago. Left him after 10 years and 2 kids. Agreed to joint custody on separation and have been living in HELL ever since. Just got the oldest one through anorexia and now she’s off to university. Dad has now turned his toxic sights on the remaining child, a 13 year old boy who is now becoming abusive and miserable toward me. I am very, very close to walking away and turning over sole custody to Dad. I love my son beyond anything – which is why I feel I must do this. He cannot weather the tug of war. No amount of legal wrangling (I’m a lawyer) or counseling is going to help this child find peace. I have to pull myself out of the equation and choose the least bad of a bunch of bad options. My experience with BPD Dad is when you let go of the rope, he falls over and doesn’t know what to do anymore. He has no more leverage and nothing to try to control. Which in turn means, son’s life at Dad’s should be less stressful. I’m told that kids who are alienated from one parent by the other generally grow up to find the other parent and make decisions of their own, usually resulting in a healthy adult relationship. On the other hand, I’m deathly afraid of Dad’s BPD irreparably harming my son without some kind of healthy influence in his life. I guess all I can do is tell him I’ll be there for him anytime, anywhere if he wants to see me or be in touch. But unless I hear from him, I won’t contact him.

Tuffie9 – welcome to Lovefraud. What a heartbreaking situation you are in. It is so difficult to know what to do. Whatever you decide, please try to keep in communication with your son. Without your influence, your ex will continue to feed him lies, and your son will have a skewed perception of reality. He needs you to balance and mitigate the craziness of your ex’s behavior.

Thanks Donna. I can’t tell you how heartened I am having found this and other resources about this phenomenon. For years I’ve been living the “Monster under the Stairs” life – no one believes he’s there because he only comes out from under there when I’m alone.

I will of course keep in touch with my son and send only positive and upbeat messages. The problem is the toxicity has been building for months (years really – just ramped up now) and it’s now so acute that nothing I say or do has any credibility with my son. I am the bad one, to be reviled and disrespected. I will make it a condition of my doing this though, that he attend at least 3 counseling sessions so that he can be as comfortable as possible that his decision is being made out of a desire for some calm rather than anger and hatred. And then just keep the channels open. That’s because, quite simply, the more involved I become in his life, the more vicious and destructive his Dad becomes. Loving distance seems to me to be the only way.

In my good moments, I feel very certain that I have enough of a positive balance in my son’s emotional bank account after years of good parenting that when the time is right, we will be re-united and great friends. It helps that his sister and I are better than ever and that I know she and I will become closer and closer with the years ahead. My son loves and looks up to his sister and she’s not having any of the toxicity any more.

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