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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.



708 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.

  4. missmykids says:

    Wow. My sister-in-law sent me this article. I cannot believe there are other people going through this! I need advise though:

    My ex-husband is clearly a sociopath (obviously I’ll never be able to get an official diagnosis since he doesn’t believe he ever needs counseling of any sort – and according to him, neither do our kids, and I should feel ashamed for getting counseling of any sort).

    After being a stay-at-home mom for 7 years, when I finally left him, he tried to declare me an unfit mother. Because the court had to pay attention to such an accusation, I was only allowed to see my kids every other weekend, and on Wednesday evenings for dinner for 10 months while the evaluation was done. Of course I was found to be a perfectly decent mother, but he was also found to be a decent father (though the counselor told the court he should attend anger-management class, which the court did order, but he never did). So we have had 50/50 custody for the last almost 8 years.

    Things were never smooth. He would constantly harrass me for not doing things with the kids the way he thought they should be done (for instance, I was trying to teach them discipline, so they would be punished for things they did wrong. But if they were then headed to their dad’s, he wouldn’t uphold the punishments. Or if I allowed them, as pre-teens, to walk 2 blocks away to a supermarket because I needed an ingredient I thought I’d had for dinner, or they went with their friends to buy candy, he would harass me. Mind, we lived in an incredibly safe and affluent area, despite my lack of income. There was no danger beyond what we live with every single day by just being alive). He had his attorney argue in court that there should be no reason why I wasn’t making plenty of money – this after I’d been a stay-at-home mom for 7 years and no one wanted to hire me even though I had fantastic computer skills. I found some ok work as a freelancer, and I worked on building an income as a website developer/designer. Unfortunately, I’m not good at marketing myself so it has taken almost that full 8 years to build the business at all – and that really only in the last 6 months.

    In any case, because of this argument, the judge decided that my ex only needed to pay $110 in child support – total each month. For 2 kids. While I was virtually unemployed. And he didn’t even pay that, despite having a job that paid half-way decently, and he’s never had to pay rent (he lives in his grandmothers house with his mom and we had lived there while we were married as well). About 2 years ago, after spending a good deal of time on food stamps and welfare, I was finally able to get support increased to $422/month. But by now the financial mess I was in was beyond repair. I had needed to borrow so much money from my dad just to pay the rent in order to try and keep the kids in the schools they were so happy with (I just wanted to provide them with some level of stability). It was nearly impossible to establish any real routines with the kids switching homes every week. I really have felt for a long time, at least since the kids were in 4th & 5th grades, that being in one place during the school year would be far more conducive to learning good study habits and doing well in school. When you consider that our son also has a learning disability, I feel that sort of stability would have been even more important and would have made a big difference.

    In any case, by this past holiday season it had become very clear that I could no longer manage to even barely keep us afloat in our Los Angeles suburb. The cost of living was simply far too high and I was not making enough money. I was about to be evicted. I made the most difficult decision of my life to move out of state to where I grew up and still had some support system to lean on, and the cost of living is significantly less (Tennessee). I could not afford an attorney, but I did get a couple of consultation sessions before I left and I was advised to give 100% physical custody of the kids to my ex (there was no way he was going to allow me to take the kids with me, and from the history of things with our Commissioner – not a judge, unfortunately – I knew that I’d have no luck there either). I felt I had no choices left to me. I had no real income, I had no place to live, and no way to support my children. We wrote up an agreement where I retained 50% legal custody, he took on 100% physical custody, I forgave the thousands in back child-support he owed, and he agreed not to ask me for support, since I can’t afford it anyhow. But we also had very specifically spelled out when the kids would come visit me – mainly during their major school holidays like Spring Break, a “significant portion” of the summer, and the end-of-year holidays. We also have in there that they may visit at other times as deemed workable, and that they may even choose to come stay with me.

    Unfortunately, though things had been very good between me & my children before I left, he has taken advantage of the natural pain my moving away has caused all of us. My daughter now won’t speak to me. She screams at me and makes accusations of abuse that simply have no basis in reality. None of the visits have been adhered to – he turned decisions about the visits over to our 12yo daughter, who is hormoanl, confused, angry…everything. She wouldn’t come. Her brother came for a little over 2 weeks this summer and we had a spectacular time together. He even commented to me about how much more relaxed I seem, and that he can tell that moving was the right thing for me to do.

    After I moved out here, things started just falling into place. I’d not had a place lined up to live before I arrived. I simply drove across the country in the snow with my 2 dogs and 4 cats and whatever else fit in and on the car, and had a few places to check out when I arrived. Long story slightly less long, my first roommate from college discovered I was in town via Facebook and invited me to come live in her beautiful home where she lives by herself. She was about to start a job a state away and didn’t want to sell her house, so I stay here and take care of the house and her pets, and she comes home on the weekends. I pay a very affordable amount of rent and have this place all to myself 5 days a week. At the same time, almost as soon as I moved, my web development/design work began to pick up. My programming/design partner & I are busy full time now. Ironically, all our clients are in CA. Go figure.

    The point is, I am in a position now where I would be able to have the kids for at least part of the year. Their father recently lost his job and has refused to apply for MediCal because he’s convinced he’ll have another job soon. I hope he does, but in the meantime he should be doing whatever he an to ensure that the kids have some sort of coverage. I tried to see if I could cover them under my insurance, but because I can no longer claim them on my tax return I can’t. I offered to change the custodial agreement so I could cover them and their dad refuses.

    Add to this that my daughter is exhibiting signs of depression – sleeping excessively, erratic mood swings (beyond teenage angst), has SAID she’s depressed, doesn’t seem to care about her appearance, says her friends have all abandoned her, etc. When I tried to talk about it with her father he replied “She’s not depressed. She just hates you.” I’m 2500 miles away! I can’t know exactly what’s going on. I felt I had no choice but to call Child Services last week to check on her. They went this weekend, and now my son is incredibly angry at me as well. I know I did the right thing. I haven’t gotten their report yet. But if I hadn’t called them and she acted out in some way, I would never have forgiven myself. I hope they find that things are fine and that I’m worried for nothing. But I don’t think so.

    While I am doing much better financially here in TN, I have such a massive hole of debt to dig my way out of, I can’t imagine that I would be able to return to CA any time soon for more than a visit. I want so desperately to have my children here with me for at least some of the year. They are having to change schools anyway now because I no longer live where they were attending before and we weren’t able to get a waiver. Their dad lives in East LA. The schools are bad. Like, movie bad. “Stand and Deliver” took place at the high school my son is starting (or at least the rival school of where he’ll be going…I’m not entirely clear right now which one he’ll be attending). The schools here aren’t great either. But I work from home and could very easily do Virtual School with them. In fact, they both would probably thrive in such a school setting.

    But I cannot get their dad to abide by our current agreement – signed by the court. Not even for visitation. I don’t know what to do. Every day it seems like he’s convinced our daughter of some new evil I’ve done to her – the most recent petty inanity was that I apparently declared when she was showing me the video game Minecraft, “that’s the stupidest game I’ve ever seen.” Come on! Really? Why in the WORLD would I ever say that? I didn’t say that! And I know it’s not something that would hold any water in court. But it’s just all these little things that are adding up in her mind. I know if I try and do a Modification Order, he will have her appear to testify against me! He has moved beyond just making up lies himself to implanting lies into my daughter’s mind and convincing her that they’re true. This is how he controlled me for so long. He will take some teeny tiny bit of the truth and twist it and manipulate it until you no longer recognize it. He makes me doubt myself constantly. He makes me feel like I’m the crazy one constantly. It is demoralizing and exhausting, and I cannot understand why it is still going on!

    I don’t know why I’m going into so much detail here. I guess I’m just relieved to see so many women going through similar situations (and I realize that many of you are in much *worse* situations than mine. I cannot imagine and my heart goes out to you). I guess I just need some reassurance that I’m not crazy, and maybe even advice on what I can do. He is so good at convincing people that he’s the good parent. I get very emotional when it comes to my kids and he is the one person on the planet that knows how to push my buttons and get under my skin that I just lose it! I either break down crying, or I end up yelling at him, whether over the phone or by text. But he manages to stay all calm and pretend that he’s done nothing at all, that he’s the victim, and I’m the crazy irrational one…OMG! Sometimes I think I *am* the crazy one! But then again, I know I’m not!

    I’m sorry this has turned into a novel. Please…go about your day. I wish you all luck and strength.

  5. missmykids – welcome to Lovefraud. I am so sorry for your situation. What you are describing is typical sociopathic manipulation. Keep in mind that he has no real love or concern for the children – all his actions are about making you miserable.

    We have many articles on Lovefraud that may help you. I especially recommend that you read the stories by Quinn Pierce and H.G. Beverly. They posted a joint article the other day that may offer you insight:

    http://www.lovefraud.com/2014/07/31/co-parenting-with-a-psychopath-two-insiders-tell-us-what-its-like/

    Stay strong. Sociopaths often screw up. When he does, you may be able to take advantage of the situation – expecially since you’re doing so much better in TN,

    • missmykids says:

      Thank you. I fear I may not recognize when he does eventually screw up. I have not an ounce of guile in me and don’t recognize these things in others because I don’t understand it – thus being married almost 15 years to this man, and being convinced that it wasn’t worth asking for alimony when I left him. Oy! It just is never ending. While the mom in me is hoping that DCFS found my daughter just to be suffering from normal teenage angst, there’s that small part of me that hopes it’s worse ONLY so I can prove that her father’s being neglectful somehow. I *know* that if I could get her here with me, without her father blathering in her ear constantly, that we could mend our relationship. It might take time. I wouldn’t expect it to happen overnight. But I can’t even get her to speak to me on the phone or respond to texts.

      I’ve had to go ahead and suspend her phone account the other day. What’s the point of paying for it if she’s not communicating? She can use her brother’s phone, or even her dad’s. And I can send messages to her via email which she can check from the home computer or from her brother’s devices. I’m at my wits end with trying to figure out how to get through to her. And I may have cut off my nose to spite my face by turning off her phone – I can’t send her daily text messages to at least remind her that I love her. But I feel like her behavior was just being allowed to perpetuate and *something* had to be done. Her father certainly does nothing to try and help matters. His idea of parenting is to be their “buddy”. I have very limited means by which to try and enforce some level of respect from so far away. On the other hand, taking away a source of communication…I’m not sure that helps either.

      Ohhhhh this is hard! I have friends who are parents of teenagers and they have things at least as frustrating on many levels. But they don’t have to deal with a sociopath of an ex-husband, or being a continent away from their child.

      I can see I’ll be spending too much time on this site. Thank you again.

  6. jm_short says:

    Missmykids-

    Psychopathic parents have to cut off the parent who knows them for what they are. As responsible parents, we try to instill appropriate behavior and boundaries in our children. Their psychopathic parent will misuse and abuse every character building move that we make.

    They will try to diminish us for our values and the caring that they truly are not capable of. Anything we do that our child dislikes becomes fodder for their misrepresentations to them.

    Without going into a detailed discussion, suffice it to say, I’be walked in your shoes. The judge in my case ordered him to pay $30 per week in child support. My son had learning disabilities and ADHD. He was easypickings for his father to manipulate.

    Usually, psychopathic parents treat one child as the “Golden child” and one as the “Scapegoat” who they gang up on and dump on. You may have greater influence with that child, but due to the distance between you and the fact that he has physical custody, you have a very difficult situation.

    Don’t fault yourself for making the “parenting” choices you feel are appropriate for your kids. If you had a loving, caring husband, he would support those choices. Instead, you have a co-parent that exploits those choices in order to undermine your relationship.

    Enlightenment and education are the keys to reaching your kids. Unfortunately, it could work, or it could backfire with further mind games. It is extremely important to try to get across to your children that loving them means NOT being their buddy, but rather, caring enough to make a difference that helps mold their path through life. Letters from you that convey love and concern over how they are doing are stronger reinforcement of the bonds between you than attempting to impose discipline from afar.

    Instead of a coordinated path with a supportive co-parent, you are in a minefield. My best advice is to let your children know how much you treasure them, and that unless they decide to live with you, you will not be getting involved in the day to day parenting issues that put them in the middle between you and their father. He is responsible for their welfare while they live in his house. You would be responsible for their welfare if they lived in yours. And they are at an age where they can make that choice.

    I would also send them two books… Robert Hare’s book that explains psychopathy and “Just Like His Father” by Lianne Leedom. If you have relatives who can help get some enlightenment through to them, it would be good to set that in motion.

    Your children are being brainwashed and it is excruciating to see it happen. You had hopes and dreams about the people they could become, and you see those aspirations fade further and further away. Your kids have two parents. They have the genetic and moral mix of you both. All you can do is the best you can do.

    Wishing you peace in the choices you make.
    Joyce

    • missmykids says:

      Thank you so much, Joyce. My kids aren’t much into reading, and I’m certain that if their dad saw a book like that either on their nightstand or in their Kindle, it would immediately be confiscated :( And their dad has all but forbidden my family from having any part of their lives, despite even having a line in our recent agreement that they would be allowed to have plenty of time with *all* of their grandparents. What good does it do to even have a signed court order if there’s no one that’s interested in enforcing it? It seems so pointless! And SO frustrating!

      I like the idea of the letter. My daughter’s birthday is coming up and I’ve been making all sorts of things for her over the last few weeks. I’m sick now thinking that she may never even open the package because she hates me so much – not just because I’ll be hurt after spending so much time and effort (and money, since I basically had to start my crafting supply over from scratch after leaving everything in CA) – but because I’ve been hopeful that she would be able to see the love that has gone into every stitch, and the consideration for the things she likes, etc., etc. Even though I can’t be sure she’ll ever see any of them, I think I will include more than a card now. Thank you.

      I still can’t believe that there are others going through this too. It’s so reassuring to know that I’m not the only one. It’s also horrifying to know that this is so much more common than I realized. {hugs to ALL of you}

      ~Laura

      • chatnoir says:

        Missmykids,

        Wow, I could have written your story myself. I have been dealing with socio ex for 8 years who was awarded full custody of my then 5 year old daughter. She was adopted from another country at 10 months old and had been my life. We were so bonded, attached and he ripped another mother from her (her bio mother had to give her up). I, too, lost everything because he set out to vanquish me. In his words, he said, 3 different times, “I will destroy you”. He even was allowed to send a letter to another state stating I should not be executor of my father who has alzheimer’s! And everyone believed him. Oh, he is a physician and comes across calm, cool, thoughtful and has set me up to be a monster. During my marriage to him (and we were in therapy for 4 years and all the therapists did tell me 1.) I was an abused wife, 2.) his “bottom” was not me or our daughter, but money and his reputation, and power all told me he was not accountable and I needed to leave him. I should have been smarter, planned better because I was blindsided by the vindictiveness that ensued. I had no idea what I was up against, and I was bleeding to death before I even knew I was in a fight.

        During marriage he gaslighted me altho I didn’t know it then. He’d bully me while driving, start a fight and be horrible to the point I’d say “Let me out of the car Ill walk home”. He would let me out, spin around me in the gravel like a highschooler, and drive off while I walked home 6 miles. What he did was go to our friends house and say, “OH, I am sooooo worried about ______(Me). I think she might be using drugs.” I had been in recovery from vicodin for 5 years at that point so unfortunately he did have that to use. But I hadn’t been using. I was trying to make a marriage work and didn’t realize how ridiculous that was as I didn’t know he was a sociopath. He’d drive with me in the car, going over a bridge and he’d veer the car on my side towards the railing like he was going to crash the car on my side. He’d tell EVERYONE in our small town that I had been addicted to drugs. People who didn’t even need to know. He acted like a savior for marrying me when I was making more money than he when we got together and I hadn’t been using. (I relapsed in marriage after a miscarriage). So unfortunately, he had my recovery as evidence and I was always truthful about it and worked hard in the community to help others with addiction that people knew that about me. But he portrayed me as though I was sick, unfit, unstable when he even told me at one point that he was a “miserable man” and I was the stable one. Then, another time I came home from a weekend in the city and he had taken me off all the accounts. I do not know how he did that without my signature but he was able to work around every rule. He would give me an “allowance” and he completely humiliated me in front of our CPA. I felt like a child. Then he’d tell me to write checks to pay for things like house repairs etc. and in court during divorce said I stole money from him, wrote unauthorized checks off his account. I had nooooo idea what was going on. Until recently I didn’t even realize he had probably been plotting this for years during the marriage. We were married a short 7 years, but a hellish 7 years for me. I had to leave as I was depressed, crying daily, a shell of my former self. As I said, I didn’t plan it, I finally just took my daughter and left. My attorney asked me if he’d fight for custody and I said NO! I told her that he never spent time with us, never showed up for family night so I figured he’d just want to find other women instead of have my daughter. Little did I know….after I left and he got custody (there is so much more as you all know), I went to grad school and changed careers. He had moved me to a town I couldn’t work and so he had control when married. So I had to start over and I worked for a year in my new field making nothing…taking care of sick parents, having my daughter every other weekend and both weekends having to travel south 3 hours for daughter round trip, and 14 hours round trip to help parents north of me. It was so difficult. But I did it for 5 years. Then after the first year in my job he called and said something that got me fired. I ended up getting an office to try to work from and I had to live there! I lost my home, all my stuff. And then my mom died and during that he was plotting with a mentally ill brother of mine to push me out of the family when I had been executor for years! All of a sudden there was no will. It was insane. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. My son’s (from a diff husband and who is an adult) fiancé died in car accident. So much stress and loss I lost it. I had to move out of state as well to take a breath and try to figure out what I would do to take care of myself and daughter. During the time my mom died, not only did my ex make a statement to get me removed from my sick and lovely father, he went to court for emergency order so I had to have supervised visits with my daughter. I had no money to drive there and pay for the visits so I didn’t see her. I saw her once that year before I had to move away. I moved, it took 2 years but I got back on my feet, then moved back to the west coast. But during that time I tried to keep in contact with daughter. Letters, gifts, phone calls. This was sporadic because he wouldn’t let her call all the time when I called. But after I moved to west coast, set up my new business which is doing very very well I knew I was stable enough to go to court. I didn’t want to do anything until I knew I could consistently provide for my daughter. What I think my ex wanted was to make me lose everything so I’d kill myself. One friend, a pastor, had called at one point early on saying he was afraid my ex was going to kill me. I said no, he wants me to do it so he can then sit back and say, “See? I told you she was crazy”.

        Present day: I have a good attorney. We served him with papers stating what I did to get my life on track again, and (I have letters coming up to give his attorney from 6 people including my therapist and psychiatrist who oversees me in recovery all stating my very high integrity character, my solid recovery etc) . After he was served I got an email from him stating ,”Just give up your parental rights. Do the right thing. My daughter will go to court (she is now 12) and testify she wants nothing to do with you. The thing is, last fall my daughter and i were talking pretty consistently and she was finally, at xmas time, laughing her cute belly laugh with me and saying she loved me. I was thrilled. I sent her a disposable phone and she sent one text last dec. saying, “I love you with all my heart”. Something I always said to her. Then? I heard nothing for 7 months from her. I called and text and wrote and nothing. Her step mom said in Jan she’d have her call me and I never got that call. I think that my daughter was saying to him that she wanted to be with me (we had been so attached when she was young. She never wanted to go back to him after her time with me and I never said anything bad about him…I never would do that to her). I think my daughter was probably crying, saying she missed me and he punished her. Probably emotionally…but he has probably poisoned her, told her things, and for 7 months I tried to contact her, I’d text and call the phone I gave her always making sure she heard me say I loved her, I wanted to be her mama….until I finally called the police in their town. I told the police this and I got a text from my ex saying,”So what did you think you would accomplish calling the police”. Seriously???? I still didn’t hear from my daughter for 2 more weeks and when she did finally call me she was very very angry. A different girl than Dec. I was so afraid. For her, for me. for us. I talked to her one other time and she hung up on me. NOW? I have the attorney who gets it ( I think….I pray) and we’ve asked for something very reasonable. I’m not asking for full custody (altho I want her away from him) We’ve set up a timeline of reunification counseling and I’d fly up there every other weekend etc. I’ve spoken to a reunification therapist who lined it out how it might go and it is daunting. But I want to do the right thing for my daughter and I know it will be hard on her but she needs to know I love her. I didn’t willingly leave her. Circumstances were such I had to for a while. But I don’t have an ex who is helping her understand. He wants me out. He wants to win. He has to win. Oh, he got married 2 months after our divorce, too!. Anyway, right now I’m freaking out. He won’t cooperate. He thinks I should give her up. That she wants it that way and maybe right now she does but it has to be because he’s said horrible things to her. How sick is this? It’s so sad for our children. It kills me. Breaks my heart for my innocent daughter who is not innocent any more. She doesn’t have her belly laughs…she has anger, sadness, fear, confusion. Damn him. I feel like its all my fault too. Sometimes I do. I know I was pushed to this place…there is so much more to this story. So much. And today, I heard from my attorney that his attorney wrote her and was a jack ass calling me a monster saying they all do nothing until I pay for a 10k$ custody evaluator to even see if I SHOULD be able to see my daughter. What kind of father does this? She was ripped from her bio mother…and now me. Her step mom I think might be seeing the truth now 8 years with him…altho they had 3 girls one right after the other since they married and I swear he did that to trap her. But she is a physician too and she is not really a super happy person but I think she must be seeing the truth. I know she won’t be my ally right now. Maybe later, but if she is seeing this then she is planning her escape. But sometimes I think maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the sociopath. Maybe I don’t deserve her. Maybe its just all my fault. I am in recovery. But then I know that is not the truth. I have so much empathy for people and the work I do now really shows that. At times I wonder if I’m the messed up one. I mean I’m here, alone, he’s there married with 4 girls and a wife. But something about him is so dark….and I think just even showing the judge the email saying I should give up my parental rights has to show my ex is not a good man? RIght? I don’t know. But people who know me know I am good, stable, kind. Gentle. I have a solid recovery. I made a huge mistake. Once I lost custody I did relapse on vicodin for a bit, but got right back into recovery, a much stronger one and that was used at every step for the rest of it. I should have been stronger, but I had been going through so much loss one thing after another and all alone. BUT, the thing is, I (and many of us) came back. I wasn’t vanquished. I didn’t go away. I didn’t kill myself. I wouldn’t anyway but for a while there it was quite scary…

        Well, missmykids, I am sorry, I totally hijacked your story. But it was such an eery thing to read because it was so close to mine. But the thing is my ex won’t let me see her, doesn’t even think I should have any kind of contact with her. And i’ve paid child support this whole time. I was 6k in arrears after those 2 years without work, but it’s all paid off! I mean I really was able to get back going again and I’m doing well in every other area.

        The idea of dating? Sickening. But it would be so nice to have someone with me now…a shoulder to lean on but I have become the capable strong woman I knew I always was. I’ve learned a lot. I know I can handle anything…but…this is getting too hard. I don’t know what to do. Maybe it is better for her to just live her life now, and then try later to reunite? But I don’t want her to think her mom left and I don’t want her to hate me for something that isn’t true. I don’t want her burdened like that. I know that once I see her, once she sees me she will be happy with me. She will maybe be able to go back to the happy girl she was. I want to envelope her in my arms and save her….I’d welcome any thoughts and help and if I learn of anything to help you all I will post it! Thank you for reading this nightmare….

        • NotWhatHeSaidofMe says:

          chatnoir
          Congratulations on getting free of a horrible marriage and on putting yourself back together. I know how much you have accomplished. I think, like me, your ex has a personality disorder. But he was able to do greater damage because he found our inner core trauma and used it to control and destroy us. Well, YOUR ex and mine, certainly caused enormous damage but we got UP again and because of the kind of people we are, we have RENEWED. I think of it as a kind of Phoenix, forged by fire and victorious.

          I can see that you will have visitation with your daughter. I have lost my daughter due in large part to my ex alientating her from me. And due in part to ME not knowing how to counter his alienations. YOU have an opportunity to do what I could not. Your daughter is young enough to re-establish a relationship with you. I am sure you already know what I am going to suggest, but I say so anyways in order to encourage and support you. Get a game plan, some wise advice, some councelling, read some book on how to counter alienation… search every resource for information and guidance. For instance, you can not say anything to defend or excuse your behavior. You can not blame him or point out HIS abuse of you. All of this is certainly valid but not to her, it’s not what she needs from you. It was one of my hardest lessons, that I was right about what was done to undermine my nurturing parenting of my child and yet, for my goal, which was to reunite with my child, my righteousness didn’t matter.

          You have to figure out your game plan. Ask the hard questions and have a ready response. You said you were addicted to vicodin and your ex used that to great effect and damaged you. So, what if she accuses you of being a drug addict? What is your plan if that comes up? By having an appropriate loving response, you can head off any defensiveness and demonstrate that you are in control of you and she can be secure that that is not a part of you anymore. That’s just one example.

          I write because I wish I had someone to warn me and guide me of what IS rather than what OUGHT to be. Maybe the awful outcome that has occurred with my daughter could have been averted. Instead, I played right into the smears of my ex and his minions.

          Good luck to you. It sounds like you have found your inner strength and I think “what a wonderful woman your daughter has for her mommy”.

          • chatnoir says:

            Notwhathesaidofme:

            Thank you so much for your very smart response. I am so sorry you have gone through this, too, and that you had a terrible outcome. I am not sure what that outcome was/is, but I know the excruciating heartbreak that having our children poisoned feels like. It’s a daily feeling. It’s not something you can recovery from. I feel like this will NEVER end. And thank you for such wise words. I needed to hear this at this exact moment because today I was told by someone unrelated to all this that they felt he would win, and that she doubted I’d ever get what I hoped for. I felt defeated. I cried all day and that was hard to hide while I was working with my own patients.

            I am sure that in Dec. my ex found the text saying “I love you with all my heart” my daughter sent me and that he put the brakes on. Well, more like punished her, shut it down, and then burdened her more with horrid stories. So hearing today that I will most likely lose completely was devastating. (this was not someone who is involved like an attorney, just a friend who is a very well known medium…and I have a skepticism about what she said yet she is brilliantly spot on most of the time for other people).

            I also read about “gray rock” I think it is called….a very smart and insightful idea about being boring, getting the socio to look elsewhere for their infusion of drama and excitement. I remember once, after we had moved into a gorgeous house I designed, my spath ex had just built a new medical office and surgery center, and we had our daughter home about a year at that point we were sitting in our house when he said to me, “Is this all there is?”. Initially I took it personally! But later was confused as to why he was not content. LIttle did I know that the “ennui” and listlessness I read about with sociopaths was what he was feeling. So now, altho I’m the target and have already suffered, I’m going to try these tactics. And whenever I used to speak to therapists, custody evaluator etc those years ago during divorce I was SO emotional. Trying to show his dysfunction. I was so blind sided by what was occurring and I was so hurt and lost in my own losses that I sabotaged myself. Yesterday, when on the phone to a very good and compassionate reunification therapist who was leary of my case due to the complexity (and my attorney had said ‘we need him, keep it simple for him!”) my first thought was hey I’m the client, along with my daughter…why do I need to keep it simple for him? But that was me feeling emotional. Instead, I wrote out what I thought I should divulge at that conversation via phone, and then when he called I was UNEMOTIONAL. A first! I stated the facts without attacking my ex. I did say my concerns (Poisoning my daughter) but I said it quick, without running off attacking and blaming and calling him sociopath. And I felt empowered in that moment after I got off phone. !st: he took the case. 2nd, I felt empowered because I was in control of myself. It felt great and was a huge lesson for me.

            So, I will take your advice and make a game plan. I have wise counsel now. My trust has been shattered from many people, including my divorce attorney a woman no less, and a woman judge who both attacked me. My own attorney was seen laughing with my ex in the hall the day I found I had lost custody. I was under so much duress it didn’t occur to me to fire her. I was too terrified.
            And I will ask myself the hard questions. Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I will practice the best thing to say to my daughter. And I, again, feel so badly that your outcome was not good. I don’t know what mine will be, but I ill fight for her and I will let her know I have been fighting for her. I will stay consistent visiting her, telling her I love her. I still text her on the phone I’m sure my ex took from her saying I love her just in case she looks at it. And I can also show a paper trail of trying to contact her.

            I’m thinking I will keep a journal of this fight. I keep receipts of all the gifts and letters I send her. I’ll write to her, copy it for the journal in case my ex intercepts my letters, and write my feelings and thoughts and give it to her when she is older or whoever it is appropriate so I can prove to her that I was doing this.

            Again, thank you for responding. During divorce when going through so much trauma, mom died, sons fiancé died, dad ill, daughter ripped away, so many losses….I looked and looked for help from anyone. I read a bunch of books that didn’t help me and eventually want to write a book that will help others….I want to write it with a sense of humor, with some wisdom, and with hope…this site is so comforting. It’s a lonely feeling being in this place. I’m sure we all feel we are alone in this. But we are not. It helps to know I’m not the only one only because I’d probably blame myself otherwise. As I said earlier, every once in a while I think, “Maybe I’m the sociopath. Maybe I did this. Maybe I’m terrible” but I know better now. I am stronger now. I have reinvented myself, my life, and a socio wants to win at all costs. They want to vanquish the target. And we won’t let them. He trie to get me to kill myself….it was a thought at one point when I was almost homeless….but i’d never do that to my kids, and then I got back, bigger, better, stronger, more capable. I know I can handle anything that comes to me now. I don’t need a man any more. I will never again marry or date someone and stay in it out of fear (fear of being alone, fear of not being good enough for someone better, whatever the fear was) with someone abusive or destructive. IF I ever get in another relationship it will be with a good man. and I’m in no hurry. I am happy with myself. I am content. I’m hurting all the damn time without my daughter, but when she is with me I will be whole.

          • chatnoir says:

            Notwhathesaidofme: Can I ask, what happened in your situation?
            THings are deteriorating. I felt so empowered finding a new attorney who gets it, getting back on my feet etc. and now things are worse. Ex is refusing to cooperate, he is going to try to bury me in legal fees again and he has an outflow of money to do this. I can’t listen to what he and his wife says to me because I end up doubting myself. And I know the truth. I just feel he will continue to get away with this and no one will see the truth about him. It looks like I just abandoned her but there are mitigating circumstances…and reasons for what I had to do. I am trying to stay accountable because I did make some bad decisions in all my stress and loss. Today I got a text from his wife, when I text her to have my daughter call tomorrow as it is her 13th birthday. The wife was vile. Telling me what a horrible parent I am. I am the one who wanted to adopt my daughter! It was my idea. We went through a lot to adopt her. Anyway, the wife put down my parenting when I am the one who taught my ex how to set boundaries and discipline without breaking my daughters spirit. Otherwise she would have run rampant and I can hear it now in her voice. She is becoming like him. I’ve never allowed her to talk back to people and the way she talks to me now is something I’ve never heard from her before. Just in December she was saying she loved me, laughing, talking to me an hour on the phone. As I said in my previous post she sent me a text saying “I love you with all my heart” and then I heard nothing for 7 months. Doesn’t that look like she was shut down? I’m just so confused. THe wife told me I needed to stay out of her life, that this is causing her pain. I never want to cause her pain and yet I know despite what the wife says, that they are filling her head with lie after lie about me. How do I handle this? Should I just wait now until she is an adult? But I’m afraid she will hate me and have nothing to do with me then. And I don’t want her thinking I would give her up. I want to do the right thing for my little girl. And I know she needs the kind of Iove I can give her that he cannot. I want to envelope her in my arms. You know even when I send her gifts I put in gifts for the 3 little girls he had with his wife. That way my daughter can give them something when she gets these packages. Maybe I’m just too stupid. I feel my strength slipping away. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point and i’m in shock that it’s come to this.
            For a year they were letting her talk to me. What happened? I just do not understand this.
            Any advice would be helpful and I am wondering what happened to you….what was the awful outcome you have endured? I am so sorry for you….and I’m so sorry for me, for all of us. Obviously, I’m not doing well right now and I need to stop this negative thinking and get that negative energy away from me….help!

  7. Here is an example of what a Sociopath can do, in this case the lawyer Jeffrey Wilens, his Class action lawsuit execution is just like a Serial killer’s Sociopath behavior. Jeffrey Wilens is so obsessed and has no conscious of the pain he is inflicting, he never knows when is enough and can never stop. These cases are completely driven by his own Sociopath hard-nosed self-interest and greed, and not the interest of the “victims” in his class action suits. Read more http://jeffreywilens.com/

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