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10 tactics for child custody battles with sociopaths

Last week Dr. Liane Leedom wrote about the tragic case Dr. Amy Castillo, whose children were murdered by their psychopathic father after several judges issued rulings that failed to protect them. I hope this terrible and extreme case will be a wake-up call for family courts.

Lovefraud frequently receives e-mail from men and women involved in child custody disputes with sociopaths, who hopefully, are not murderers. Here is one of them:

I am involved in a custody case with a sociopath, however, my case is being fought in Europe where I recently relocated to (I am American, he is European). After being the sole caregiver of my children for five years, I had no choice but to leave them with their father and return to the States. When we separated he took their passports and left the country for a year. It was NOT possible to obtain new passports for children without BOTH parents’ signatures.

By the end of that year my financial situation was desperate and I had no choice. I came back to the States, got myself back on my feet and recently I started my own company as a Virtual Assistant, allowing me to work anywhere in the world. While in the States I came back to Europe every six to eight weeks to visit my children. Well one month ago, I relocated back to Europe to live and continue my fight for custody of my children.

The court case had already been ongoing since January and in typical sociopath style he has lied and forged documents. Even so, my ex was recently given sole custody (temporarily while custody is decided) and that I must pay him 900 euros (around $1,300 USD a month!). As if that could not be bad enough, he sends me on a regular basis (the most recent being today) faxes full of lies and accusations that he then turns around and uses as evidence in his court case!!! Furthermore, I do NOT have 900 euros a month to give him. I just relocated and started my own business and this is a real slap in the face with all of the financial damage he has done to me as well as my credit in the U.S.

I have fired my attorneys and hired the best Custody/Family attorney where I live. He has been in practice for 30 years and not lost a case! Also he is known to be a very strong and tough attorney. I wish I would have had him in the beginning. So with this I feel confidence.

The reason I am writing is because although I have a very positive outlook and feel that I am a strong person, as I know that most of you can agree, it is very difficult dealing with a sociopath. When I receive these horrible faxes my stomach just drops and it can make me feel very anxious for hours after. So now I have stopped reading them at all. I do not know what I am looking for by sending this email. I think I just need the support of knowing there are others out there going through the same things as me and that this is manageable and that I will make it through. I would greatly appreciate hearing what others have done in a situation like this. Thank you.

Like most parents fighting a custody battle with a sociopath, this woman faces a difficult times. Below are some general suggestions about child custody and sociopaths.

Get him or her to walk away

If your ex is a sociopath, at best, he or she will be a lousy parent. At worst, he or she will intentionally try to damage your children. Therefore, if at all possible, it may be best to cut the sociopath out of your children’s lives.

You may want to consider offering the sociopath an incentive to walk away. Tell the sociopath to give up parental rights, and he or she won’t have to pay any child support. You may feel that you need the child support payments, but chances are that you’ll never get the money, or it will always be a struggle to get it. The money isn’t worth having the predator in your family’s life. Figure out a way to support your children without it.

Sometimes this works—there are sociopaths who care more about money than kids. But many times it doesn’t, because the sociopath considers children to be possessions. Or, the sociopath just wants to win the battle with you, and destroy you in the process. In those cases, you’ll end up in court.

Tactics in custody battles

I am forever grateful that I never had children with my sociopathic ex-husband. I avoided the most tragic of circumstances involving these predators—a child custody battle. Therefore, the suggestions I make below come from my research and what Lovefraud readers have told me.

If you’re fighting a custody battle with a sociopath, here are some tactics to follow:

1. Document, document, document.
Keep a journal of everything that happens. Often, the craziness is so intense that you don’t want to remember what happens. Your journal will be important when you need to tell a cohesive story of what has been going on with the sociopath, especially if you need to tell it long after events have transpired. Save every scrap of paper, every e-mail, every fax, every receipt. Develop a way of organizing the information, whether chronological, or by topic. Keep copies in a safe place.

2. Have witnesses
It is best not to deal with the sociopath alone; every interaction then becomes he said/she said. Have a trusted friend or relative present during child exchanges or other interactions as much as you can. You may even want to consider tape recording and videotaping some of what goes on.

3. Get your own information
Do not allow the sociopathic parent to control information about your children. Make sure you get information directly from schools, doctors and others.

4. Hire an aggressive, competent attorney
Child custody cases with sociopaths are not normal cases. The sociopath will not play by the rules. Your attorney must understand this. The sociopath will lie in court, although his or her performance will appear heartfelt, like he or she is “just concerned with the welfare of the children.” The sociopath will make outrageous accusations. The sociopath is also likely to retain an attorney who is also sociopathic. Therefore, your attorney must be up for the challenge.

5. Do not allow lies to become part of the court record
Sociopaths lie. Sociopaths lie convincingly. You cannot allow unchallenged lies to become part of the court records. Once they are, they take on the aura of truth, and put you in a very bad position. Some lies, like accusations of child abuse, may haunt you forever.

6. Be cautious in stating that your ex is, in fact, a sociopath
Unfortunately, many judges really do not understand what this means to the welfare of a child. Like the general public, many judges equate “sociopath” with “serial killer,” and may consequently believe that you are overreacting. So it may not be in your best interest to prove that he or she is a sociopath. Focus on proving the behavior.

7. Stay calm in court
You must present a calm, professional image when you go to court, even as the sociopath lies. Do not allow the sociopath to make you emotional. The sociopath will accuse you of being unstable, and you will prove it by your behavior in court. Keep your emotions in check, at least in front of the judge.

8. Make sure court orders are explicit
Insist on detailed court orders. The order should not say, “parent has visitation every other weekend.” It should specify exactly which weekends, starting at what times, returning at what times, who is responsible for transporting children, who is responsible for bathing and feeding them—everything must be spelled out in detail. If there is any ambiguity, the sociopath will exploit it.

9. Make the sociopath abide by court orders
If the sociopath fails to honor the orders, do not cut him or her any slack. Record any violation. Call the police if necessary. Continue to document everything that happens, because you may need to go to court again. If you ever decide that you need to cut the sociopath out of the child’s life, you’ll need evidence to do it.

10. Take care of yourself
You will need all your resources to deal with the sociopath. Therefore, make healthy decisions in your own life. Eat right, avoid drugs and alcohol, get enough sleep, exercise and develop a support network. In order to care for your children, you must care for yourself.

Post your suggestions

I previously reviewed the book, Win Your Child Custody War, on the Lovefraud Blog. This book is full of information that may help you, from how to gather documentation to how to hire an attorney and private investigator.

If Lovefraud readers have any more suggestions that may be helpful to others involved in custody battles with sociopaths, please post it in comments below.



698 Comments on "10 tactics for child custody battles with sociopaths"

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  1. KarmaChameleon says:

    I would like to ask for advice. My son’s father is a sociopath. He abused my son physically and emotionally, but since my son is autistic, he could not explain to me everything that was happening until just a few years ago. I saw an attorney immediately, and she said to go to counseling first before taking any legal action.

    I found my son a counselor, but my ex would not come to counseling. The counselor called my ex who finally decided to come to counseling, but left the session in a rage. My ex then filed a lawsuit against me and named the counselor in the lawsuit as being incompetent etc.

    Anyway, much has happened since then, none of it good. We all had to go through a social investigation, my ex was found to have issues accepting my son and was ordered into therapy, along with his girlfriend who is also emotionally abusive to my son. I see a different therapist since it was determined I was a fit parent but needed help dealing with my ex.

    My son’s therapist is now the same therapist my ex uses, she is supposed to be ‘helping’ them improve their relationship. It isn’t working. Along with that failure, the new parenting plan granted my ex more than double the time with my son because the psychologist who did the investigation felt it was important to break the close bond my son and I have which would allow my ex to form a closer relationship. I thought it sounded insane and was floored by this recommendation, but I had no choice. During mediation, my attorney and the mediator told me if I did not agree to my ex’s terms, I would likely lose custody of my son because judges don’t like to hear cases of he said, she said and since the psychologist mentioned how protective I am of my son and how my ex just needs time to fix the relationship, this could result in my losing custody. Of course I signed the papers.

    My ex will not follow the schedule set forth in the papers. He claims that his job requires him to travel and he cannot commit to ANY schedule. My attorney told me there is nothing I can do, since my ex is claiming this is job related, he can basically set his own visitation schedule and I have to go along with it. This is very difficult, especially as my son is autistic and needs routine. He never has had routine with his father since our old agreement did not define visitation at all.

    I am meeting with a new attorney next week. I’m wondering if I am just wasting my time though, can someone just say ‘job issue’ and constantly reset visitation schedules? We have no peace in our home because we never know when the ex is going to demand to see my son, or then demand makeup time, etc. He is still being abusive to my son and the therapist has told me she cannot change my ex, the best she can do is teach my son coping skills.

    I would appreciate some input from those of you who may have experienced something like this. I am beyond upset most of the time and am having trouble even going to work. My son misses school because he gets ill when he knows he has to spend time with his dad. I just don’t know how I can fix this.

  2. KarmaChameleon – My heart breaks for you. Your ex is a sociopath. The investigation psychologist who recommended separating you from your son is either clueless or corrupt.

    Keep in mind that the sociopath’s primary objective is to win. He doesn’t care about your son. Perhaps if he perceives he has “won,” he will stop showing up for visitation.

    If you ever plan any special occasions for your son, never tell the father because he will do whatever he can to disrupt them.

    Document everything that happens. Perhaps the time will come when you’ll have another chance. You’ll need all your evidence.

    • KarmaChameleon says:

      Thank you Donna! It does help just to be validated. I get so upset and have told both the current therapist and attorney that my ex is evil, why can’t they see what he is doing to my son? I was so hopeful the current therapist would see my ex for the person he is and recommend reducing his visitation, I’ve even sent her articles on cluster B personality disorders and said ‘this is my ex, I am afraid for my son’, but it seems she just is not understanding or is lacking training. And I always end up feeling like the crazy one. I’m not allowed to contact my son except for 15 minutes a day between 6 and 8 while he is with his dad, and this is so stressful for both of us.

      The only positive here is that my son is 14 and we only have a few more years to go before we don’t have to abide by any court order. So far my ex has changed visitation times 15 times in 2 months. Maybe the new attorney can help force a commitment on visitation times and increase our contact time allowance, I don’t know.

      Anyway, just reading this site does help me feel less crazy and alone.

  3. Shelovestowrite says:

    I’m reading all the comments and I feel a weird sense of relief. It can be hard to tell when a person is a sociopath until you get into a situation that brings it out of them. My ex McKinly is the perfect example of this. I won’t get into the whole long story—because it is long—but he pulled out all the stops in our custody case. When I became pregnant, he denied our baby until she was born. Then, he seemingly came around, but refused to provide her with health insurance. I had to fight him in court for nearly 7 months just to get medical coverage for our infant. At the same time he had visitation, and he would take our daughter to his parent’s house(whom he lives with) and play with her and take photos with her but was still refusing to let her get medical care. That was only the tip of the iceberg.

    During our custody case he:

    -Called the police on me for returning home late from a shopping trip and told them I was armed and dangerous. When I got home with our baby, the NYPD had my house surrounded and ended up pulling a gun on me and our infant daughter. This was two days after I ended my relationship with him.

    -Had a SWAT team storm my house because I didn’t comb our daughter’s hair the way he wanted it. (He works for the Dept. of Corrections)

    -Was ordered to let me have our daughter for Mother’s Day, and brought her over at 11:59 p.m. so I could only have on minute with her.

    -Told me it was okay for me to have our daughter for an extra day, then promptly reported her missing and had me arrested in front of her. Of course pretended he never said that. Lucky for me I had been recording the calls. I ended up paying $5,000 for a criminal defense attorney and facing jail time. The recorded phone call saved me.

    This guy has no conscience. None. He lacks even basic empathy. I’ve seen him do cruel things to his own mother. His father is the same way. I just wish I had seen the signs before I got pregnant.

    He’s a loser. He’s 35 now and has a dead end job and lives with his parents. They’ve converted part of their home to a rooming house where he lives with homeless people, drug addicts and drunks.

    I’m glad to be rid of him(I ended up falling in love with my childhood sweetheart again!) but I’m sorry I chose him to father my child. I feel sorry for her having to have him as a dad.

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