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Tips for surviving a custody evaluation

220px-Crying-toddlerEditor’s note: Lovefraud received the following email from a mother whom we’ll call “Natalya”. She shares a child with a sociopath and her custody nightmare keeps getting worse.

I have read in many articles and blogs that often psychologists would not recognize the psychopath and actually “allow” themselves to be manipulated. I thought it won’t happen to me as my son’s father is so ridiculous and I think it is so obvious to see something is wrong with him.

Unfortunately my custody evaluation was a disaster.

Even one of the mental tests he took shows the possibility of substance induced psychotic disorder and the psychologists herself stated he shows paranoia, delusion and cannot be redirected or he has a hard time controlling himself.

However the psychologist went for the nonsense sob stories. And further she believed I have accused him of molesting his stepdaughter. Something I have never said but it is all he says over and over and over again.

My child is going to be 3 in November. I am doing anything I can to help him be a healthy, loving human.

But it is so hard. Last night he came home so distressed. He sat on my lap and start telling me, “Daddy is mad and locks him in a room.” He said he is a “bad boy” and was locked in and it was so scary and spooky.

It breaks my heart. But because I am a woman, because I am a mother, I have no rights to even say anything, as I am instantly labeled to be a scorned woman, and to be saying this out of anger towards the father. Statements like that hurt so much.

I would like to be able to share a couple of suggestions for people going through a custody mess with a psychopath, especially those that would go through a custody evaluation.

  1. Proving domestic violence while under psychological abuse is very hard. I didn’t even know that kind of abuse is considered domestic violence. Finding an advocate and starting therapy with a local non-profit organization is very helpful as it may help the psychologist to conclude there is domestic violence in the “family”. I am currently going to a social service agency. I have 24 one-on-one sessions with a therapist for free. Along with that they offer all sorts of assistance.
  2. I realized that because of the years of abuse and constantly being put in position to defend myself, I seem to be in this defense mode trying to appear “perfect”. Because of that my MMPI test came invalid. Most of us don’t even know what this test is. My advice would be try to be open about the trauma and do not cover your “wounds” in effort to look as the better and more put together person. Unfortunately I didn’t even realize I am doing that. It is a form of defense mechanism.
  3. Do not ever contact CPS! Even if a professional insists you call. Ask them to make the call.
  4. If you have filed police reports that were left opened/ with no outcome please make sure you don’t just let go. I did this and it is now used against me. I found out my ex had been secretly filming me during sex but unfortunately the police didn’t do much and I tried to just let it go and move on.
  5. If you have an Order of Protection do not agree to quash it.
  6. If parenting coordinator or custody evaluator rules prohibit recording, do not initial that section of their contract. Recording those sessions is very important.

 

 



25 Comments on "Tips for surviving a custody evaluation"

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  1. Natalya – thank you so much for sharing your hard-won wisdom.



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  2. flicka says:

    A lot of wise advice. My how well we all have the same feelings of worthlessness and uselessness. Even my very few remaining close friends believe me but have a very hard time accepting it to be true and remain hopeful and skeptical. It’s so much easier to just walk away from it all…except for the victims themselves. Imagine the strength of character it takes for us to admit what we KNOW is real! If only there were some outward signs of psychosis…a well-camouflaged mental illness. Kudos to Donna and her ilk who dare speak THE truth…against all the odds.



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    • flipper says:

      Sometimes an absent parent is the best parent At least until child is old enough to talk and fend for themself. It is awful we all had to encounter such heartless people but it is awesome that we all recognize it, acknowledge it and are being proactiv



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  3. lostinchaos says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your insight and casting light upon such a dark and terrifying situation. I became aware of his “true” self in Jan this year. Our son will be 3 in Dec. I too want my son to live a happy healthy life, to grow up and be a true gental man and productive member of society. Upon discovering “what” not “who” I am dealing with all I can think about is how to get him out of my home, how to protect my sons future, how to separate knowing what’s best and the guilt I will feel hearing “where’s Daddy?” I have tried to become the “gray rock” I have lied and told him I cheated, I have stollen, broke, talked bad about him, figuring surely he would be so angry snd leave from embarrassment, but it didn’t work. At this point I fear he will never leave. I can’t move away, it’s just not an option for me.

    My biggest fear is my son will mirror his father completely, he on occasion tells me ” I’m going to smash you Mommy” it breaks my heArt, I never wanted to exploit my child this way. I am stuck on scared. Any advice you could offer me, I would appreciate greatly. More than anything I want to show my son a life of love and security, free from abuse.



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    • Escapefor1 says:

      I don’t know what to say that would most likely help. I also worried about how I would face my kids when I left and they asked “Where’s Daddy?”. So much so that I waited another 4-6 years before I left.

      But you know what? After all the upheaval and all was said and done, my kids have seen who my ex really is. All by themselves.

      The danger is in having your child see him alone any of the time. I waited until my kids were older, so they could take care of themselves and they could see better who was who.

      With an about to be 3 year old, another thing to consider is that big psychological disruptions and abandonment can be lifelong very damaging to a child if they happen in the first 3 years of life. Anytime really, but worse in the first 3 years of life. So, you might wait until he is 4 or more.

      But counter to that is getting a fresh start when he is too young to really know what is going on and remember. I guess how well it works will depend on your custody and how his father will treat him. If he remarries, maybe there will be a decent woman around to counter him. But I would not count on that. My ex remarried someone also pretty horrible according to accounts of all close to him.

      It is unfortunately kind of damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation. Two things I did learn. Kids figure out more than you think. He can damage him greatly not only through poor modelling, but also reducing their self-esteem and confidence, as well as negating himm as a person, as an individual.

      I too wanted to show my kids a better way of living after divorce. But there was so much damage and disruption for so long that, that never happened before they left home. The challenge for us affected is to try to recover better/faster for the kids.

      In retrospect, I should have left that 4-6 years earlier. But if I am honest with myself, one of my children was pretty destroyed by my divorce and was probably not better off for my having gotten it. But my other child was definitely helped by my divorce and living much more with me ultimately. So, sometimes I wonder whether it was worth it from the perspective of the kids. He was a convincingly good dad to them until I challenged his situation and left him. But most of the time I feel it was worth it. For you, with a son only 2, I can’t imagine waiting for him to grow up. I would go soon, before he is too much older.



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      • flicka says:

        I basically agree. Kids will eventually make up their own minds regardless of what you do. At 78 and 5 grown children, I realize the ultimate power of genes but better now than later (when they’re basically “formed” according to the experts.



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      • burnedout says:

        Hi Escapefor1,
        I’m in AZ, too.
        In the beginning phases of the court process and could use some advice on lawyers in AZ that get this type of nightmare and are competent at strategizing 10 steps ahead and also protection. I would like to find a lawyer who understands domestic violence (emotional / psychological abuse) and knows how to get that across in court.
        Is the anyway to DM with you on this site?
        Could really use to talk to someone going through this who has real concrete, practical, advice.
        It’s beyond daunting.



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    • flipper says:

      Thank you for opening up, I understand completely but truth is even if you leave he will have parenting time ugh And if you stay your child will pick up on learned behaviour…I will try and give you a couple ideas based on the fact sociopaths Need action, reactions, ego stroked,drama attention etc. I learned of my ex’s dark secret when I was 3 months pregnant and the thought of my son being like him and what my son would see or if I left his daddy would my baby be safe ect. ( I stayed longer because of those fears) but I started mirroring him did the whole reverse thing, it was very tough! I would not give him a positive or negative response to anything, started making plans with friends, took up a new hobby, didn’t have sex as much, basically I did not let him be my center of attention.This got him out there looking for his next victim if he wasn’t looking already but he didn’t dump me what he did was worse! He started doing things that would make me disgusted, he started getting more violent, he wanted to do very repulsive kinky things in bed he was basically pushing me to break up with him just like all are research says.And Now
      At this time he has choose not to see our son. He has not called on our scheduled time or has had excuses ( he is out smothering, love- bombarding his new victum) but he is claiming that I am keeping baby cause I’m jealous of his new soul mate. Fact is a judge in a custody case does not like a dead beat parent that doesn’t show up to see there child and I can prove he has backed out of every visit. Hoping that when we hit the court room the judge will favor my request of limited time because of his actions and also child’s age. I know it is scary moving on or changes but I personally would rather fight in court than fight with a sociopath and have my kids pick up on leearned behaviour. If your granted joint custody with you having physical you could limit the time your child has with him.
      Good luck



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  4. Escapefor1 says:

    Yes, number 2 is very important, and number 1 can be helpful. I also did not quash my order of protection.

    In our detailed custody evaluation, we also did psychological testing. I felt it was super important to establish credibility throughout the proceedings, so I came clean myself with some past unfavorable or secret things, nothing affecting parenting, and nothing compared to my N and P ex. Don’t try to put down what you think what they want to hear, put down what you really think. If you are relatively normal, this will come out OK. The MMPI has a built in test to see whether someone is manipulating the test, which leads to its being inconclusive. My N and P ex’s MMPI was deemed manipulated and therefore inconclusive. But it indicated antisocial (which includes NPD and Psychopath) just the same. And our custody evaluator got it. So did our private judge.

    But do find out what they are saying about you and counter it, with objective proof, if possible. In my case, I had lots. I had some strong traits in one direction and my ex tried to stretch this to dysfunction. My objective proof showed this was not true.

    I think for victims the most important thing is that even though you are jangled, try not to show that. Try to maintain a calm, even composure. Keeping who your soon-to-be-ex really is helps with that as once you figure them out, they are far less surprising.

    On point 1, I also did not realize the type of emotional abuse and legal battery (short of striking) fit into the definition of DV. In many states, this definition has been broadened. So check to see whether yours fits. I did not receive an advocate or any counseling re the DV, but I did use local shelters and the national DV phone line to get advice about finding an attorney who understands these personality types. And boy did I get a great one! So, DV organizations can be a good resource and are often low-cost or free. Some church counselors, if trained, are also a good and low-cost or free resource.

    On the order of protection, there are varying views about the usefulness of this. I found mine useful as it stopped him (finally!) communicating with me, harrassing me, and threatening me and others. Our situation did not fit neatly into the state DV definition and the 1 year time frame for an O.P. (R.O.). So, mine was eventually overturned, but the judge admonished my ex on the record that if he knew what was good for him, he would not contact me. And he hasn’t.



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    • Escapefor1 says:

      To clarify on the MMPI, I think the result most related to sociopaths is the “psychopathic deviate” score. This includes traits of narcissism, psychopathy, and antisocial. On the basis of this score and other findings, my psych/custody evaluator concluded my ex was antisocial.

      But I was told by those in the legal system that this is also code word for narcissistic as the legal system does not realize how bad NPD is.

      Anyway what is meant by “psychopathic” in the MMPI is the not the precise definition of psychopathic, which in any event is no longer technically used, but instead lumped in with antisocial personality disorder.



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  5. pumpkin1619 says:

    I have a 2 year old with a N. We have never been married, so there is no formal agreement regarding my daughter. Everytime I have broken up/away from him, the pull regarding her has what has been the reason I went back. He has to move next summer out of state, am I wrong to not push for any “legal binding agreement” in the hopes when he moves- we will be out of sight-out of mind? I struggle with the fear of my daughter having abandonment issues, but his “vision” of a polygamous relationship was becoming all too realistic way too fast. I could not chance having my daughter or my son from a previous marriage being subjected to that. right now I am just documenting every time he calls/checks on her.



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    • flicka says:

      Personally I would not even entertain seeking any sort of agreement as psychopaths almost always find a way of later renegging on any contracts, which will necessitate re-connecting with them. thereby further keeping your deeply infected woumds open. Never mind the resultant “abandonment issues”…you are doing this as much for her future sake as yours.



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    • flipper says:

      Sometimes an absent parent is the best parent. I am going through something similar. I am Not pushing any legal custody but I am also not asking for child support. Pleawe Do Not think your in the wrong for not pushing anything legal. ( You are protecting your children) From what I have read and what I am seeing from my Ex sociopaths do not want to pay child support! In a sense that act like the child is there property they own and in there eyes if they have to pay child support they have lost control. So if there is not any reason You could loose your child don’t be afraid because the chances of your Ex intiating a custody battle are slim especially if he knows you will get physical custody.
      My Ex initiated custody but did not show for resolution management conference when it was scheduled so that made him look bad but I also am not getting any financial help from him but my child’s life is more important! I do not Know what state you live in but in Az. Most likely a judge would keep baby with you and give you child support and make your Ex pay pay his own way to see his son…



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  6. flipper says:

    I just want to say Thank You for everyone that shares! I do not feel as DUMB as he tried to make me feel… Wow what a horror movie we have all been in.
    I am in a custody battle right now and it’s scary. We have a two year old and before I left he made sure to get me pregnant for his own ego. It’s been 2 months I escapes and I am feeling better. I have not seen him because I asked my mother do be the third party. I knew and know I am still healing and didn’t want to see him so soon. ( also it seems this sociopath studie porn his whole life so I do not want to degrate myself by putting out to him ever again) He found someone else lol. Just like everything I have read”I do believe he spotted his next victim before I left” I have felt used, stupid, ashamed and completely embarrass at I went for this guy. I was at my lowest(i thought) when I meet him and yep he put on the act! Now 3 years later I have a beautiful baby boy and one on the way. We had a resolution management conference set that he intiatated and he did not show…He is in the stage of love- bombarding I guess and trying to smother this girl. He is claiming I am keeping his son away from him although he has been the one to ditch him. I would like to say what a stupid woman he has ( but I was too)when at first when I left him he was seeing his son then all the sudden he quit but is trying to flip it on me. So I am logging everything. Im sorry I am rambling I haven t really for to cent. Anways I am scared I’m a way to go to court with him because of the things I heard over and over that he would say, such things like ” How do you think I got custody of my kids, I make the B:$#@! sick enough to abandon them or I drive her crazy and prove it in court” GRRR or he would say ” Take me to court I am getting 50 50.”
    I Do not want him getting 50 50and I am not sure if I have enough reasoning to aske the judge that he only has one day a week. Any feedback would be appreciated because it is a fact now that he is on drugs and when I was with him I witnessed him neglect his other 2 kids, leave them with whoever, move people in and out of his home. Amongst so many other things but those are pertinent in court’s eyes. I have been the primary parent also and know child support. Is it a bad choice to show the judge multiple text of abuse to try and prove domestics violence because I know What my baby is going to see and he can’t even talk yet.
    Sorry again for my rambling. I have not been able to get to counselor yet, groups or church but I am happy I am reunited with siblings and mother again



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    • Flipper – welcome to Lovefraud. I’m glad you are documenting what happens – that is really important. We have many articles on Lovefraud that may help you. Type “custody” in the search box above the headline for this article.



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    • NoMoreWool says:

      Documentation is essential. If you can find a neutral third party to testify to the sociopath’s dangerous behavior, the judge can’t put it down to you being a bitter ex. Of course, that means that your ex would have to misbehave with your son in front of witnesses. Otherwise, document with photos or recordings every chance you get. Judges have to go by hard evidence and it is very tricky trying to get definite proof on a sociopath. If the judge isn’t inclined to give you sole custody you can ask for supervised visitation. Then when the ex doesn’t show up for the visits you can go back and ask for sole custody based on his failure to show up to visitation. Good luck.



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      • Kukima59 says:

        Excellent advice, and we were fortunate to have many witnesses to his bad behavior, ones who would be willing to testify if needed. We also stipulated supervised visitation and did indeed use that to get full custody because he never even called to set it up (after we did our part, of course). This was even after he cried in court saying how much “he wanted to see his baby, and he missed her and thought of her everyday, and loves her so much”. So full of crap…



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    • Escapefor1 says:

      I also got divorced in AZ. If you need a recommendation for lawyer, let me know. (But I am not sure how to do an offline message here on this site, not sure that is possible.)

      Anyway, printing and showing multiple abusive texts/emails is a good strategy and one that I also used. However, organize them and write a summary. Make it super easy to read them fast, especially the bad parts, which I highlighted. These judges are busy, so make it easy for them.

      In fact, my judge recommended I submit them as evidence of harrassment and get a restraining order, something I did later after they became threatening. But between those emails and other things my ex did in front of the judge, my request to have a psychological evaluation done was accepted. This definitely helped my custody battle. It is one more way to get away from “he said, she said” and assumption of both sides contributing to the problems. I would also request a surprise drug test in your case if that is possible.

      I think, though I am not a lawyer, that AZ starts with the presumption of 50% 50% custody, but that may be different with a very young child. However, if you can prove his problems and unfitness as a parent, he could get far less custody time.



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    • Kukima59 says:

      He is using the “I will get 50/50 as a threat, because he knows the kids are important to you and he will use anything, and say anything to get to you. I know in Colorado, there are no overnights for children under 30 months, so check your state. Document everything…screen shot those texts and email them to yourself so you still have copies if anything happens to your phone, or print them out if you need to. Ask for supervised visitation, ask for an MMPI test and random drug tests. Ask for a psychological evaluation. Do everything by the book, so no one can call into question what you have done. As hard as it may be to not retaliate for his treatment, don’t do it. Don’t respond to his personal attacks, he is trying to get “supply”. Keep any communication short and only about what is necessary. Good luck, it’s a hard road, but it’s worth it in the end…



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  7. Kukima59 says:

    We are so lucky that the N in my grandchilds life has chosen not to be involved. My daughter got out when the baby was 6 weeks old, and he hasn’t seen the child since 3 1/2 months. My grandchild will be 3 in Dec. One thing I think is good practice is GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING and keep copies of everything. Screen shot any texts, screen shot how many times they call, have a separate email account for communications. The best thing the judge did for my daughter during their separation was to say they could only communicate via email, no phone calls. That way everything is documented. On the phone the N will try to use his “charm” and if it doesn’t work he will resort to the usual hateful behavior and words. Ours did that in emails, especially if my daughter didn’t give him any “supply” and he would lose it and blow up in the email, and we showed them to the court, proof of his roller coaster behavior. Even after the judge ordered the “email only” ruling, the N still tried to get her to communicate on a phone call, or in person. He would say things like “it’s too hard to type all of what I have to say in an email” or “we could get this taken care of so much faster if you would just talk to me!” Have copies of EVERTHING



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  8. Charm4u says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience and helpful tips. Sorry you’ve been through this painful situation and are still dealing with the mess.

    My custody evaluation in the early 1990’s was a total disaster. The Narcissistic Sociopath (NS) I was married to was extremely devious.

    He took complete control in order to WIN at all costs. He convinced the Alcoholic Counselor that HE should have custody because I was ‘overly-emotional and crazy’–despite the fact that NS was jailed for 30 days after threatening in front of our 7 yo daughter to violently physically attack me. He had the same blow up temper as Mel Gibson on the tapes that have been published.

    NS hid behind a mask of appearing to be an upstanding leader in the community. He was a hometown athlete and National Honor Society member in HS. He attended a premier academic institution. At that time, was a military officer in the Natl. Guard and had a white collar position working for a prominent US corporation.

    Unfortunately, he was able to manipulate and control the entire child custody situation. He reversed it so that I had to have supervised visits because he kept slinging false accusations in court. The judge was a huge misogynist (hated women) and really stuck it to me.

    NS kept his Parental Alienation campaign going until he turned everything around and ‘won’ by completely shutting me out–which was what he had threatened to do many times. The final outcome: I had to pay HIM child support and have supervised visits–even though it was supposed to be Joint Custody and he had gone to jail for violating the restraining order multiple times.

    He kept our child and refused to let me see her. He refused every supervisor that I provided. He even claimed that a friend who was willing to go on the visits with me was a ‘Neo Nazi Skinhead’–just because my friend had shaved his head after having cancer and chemo. Of course, this was just one of the false accusations NS vehemently hurled at me and used to assassinate my character in Court, trying to prevent me from having any contact with my child.

    Ex NS brainwashed my 7 yo daughter by constantly telling her that I was a ‘crazy, lesbian alcoholic’. He also told her that she was not to eat or drink anything when she was with me because “your mother is poisoning you”. This was so cruel I can’t even begin to tell you how upset I was about his intentional mental cruelty to a defenseless, impressionable young child.

    Of course, none of that was or is true. I was Mrs. Baptist who was at church and at home raising our child full-time. He was rarely home, traveled every weekend and was a sex addict who had MANY affairs (same as what was reported in the news about Tiger Woods).

    Sadly, there was no way to work anything out or overcome this violent NS, so I lost my daughter. She’s grown now, but hates me because of NS lies and refuses to have anything to do with me.

    For those dealing with anything similar, please research online, ‘Parental Alienation’. Then find counselors and lawyers who are familiar and have dealt successfully with this terrible situation.



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